Nurturing Trust: Micromanagement and Reasons to Avoid it

Despite the negative connotations associated with it, micromanagement remains a prevalent issue in many workplaces today. Micromanagement involves exerting excessive control and closely monitoring employees’ tasks and activities. Some easy ways to spot a micromanager include:

  • They always need the final say
  • Their team is constantly mentally exhausted
  • They dictate more than they ask
  • They frequently bombard their teams with specific questions
  • They tend to redo their team’s work

While some managers may believe that this level of scrutiny ensures productivity and quality, the truth is that it often hinders overall team performance.

In this blog, we will delve into the detrimental effects of micromanagement and shed light on the importance of fostering trust and autonomy to achieve success in any organisation.

The illusion of control

According to Harvard Business Review, micromanagers often exhibit this behaviour because they want a closer connection with their “lower-level” employees, thinking they are fostering involvement and engagement. Alternatively, they may simply find comfort in performing tasks they were previously responsible for, wanting to be involved in the nitty-gritty aspects of the work.

In its essence, micromanagement is rooted in a desire for control. Managers who engage in micromanagement believe that exerting this excessive control over their employees’ work will guarantee results. However, the reality tells a different story; a while ago, we conducted a LinkedIn poll where we asked our network –

“Do you feel there is a lack of trust from you manager even though you are competent in your role?”

Although over half didn’t feel this was an issue, a staggering 45% (nearly half of our participants) felt their manager either sometimes or never trusted their competence in their role”

Surely this is evidence enough to start getting managers to look inwards rather than out?

The human toll of micromanagement

As recruitment specialists, we have witnessed firsthand the damaging impact of micromanagement on employee satisfaction within companies.

A major issue arising from micromanagement is the perceived lack of autonomy, which directly correlates with decreased job satisfaction and motivation. When employees are deprived of decision-making power and feel disempowered and undervalued, their engagement and enthusiasm plummet. For instance, when managers insist on approving even the tiniest project details, it communicates a lack of trust in the employee’s judgement, leading to demoralisation and a limited sense of ownership.

In an environment where every move is scrutinised, employees begin to feel undervalued and disengaged, leading to a sharp decline in job satisfaction. Consequently, talented individuals seek out environments where they are trusted and granted the freedom to excel, which result in higher turnover rates for organisations that fail to foster trust and ensure autonomy.

Stifled innovation and productivity

Micromanagement not only hampers productivity but also obstructs creativity, stifles innovation, and diminishes employees’ sense of ownership over their work. When employees feel that they’re merely following orders and their unique skills and insights are neither trusted or valued, their motivation and creativity take a hit. The constant need for approval diverts their attention from their core responsibilities, leading to inefficiencies and poorer outcomes.

Ironically, micromanagement often creates bottlenecks and workflow delays. When managers require approval for even the simplest tasks (despite employees being fully capable and briefed to manage them) unnecessary layers of bureaucracy are added, adversely affecting efficiency. This also deprives employees of the space to explore new approaches to their work. 

A stealthy attack on workplace mental health

Micromanagement wreaks havoc on team morale: it turns the workplace into a pressure cooker, where anxiety and stress simmer beneath the surface. Collaboration and open communication suffer as employees become too scared to speak up or take risks.

As a result, morale takes a nosedive, and engagement plummets faster than a lead balloon. It’s a recipe for frustration, resentment, and a toxic work environment, with higher feelings of anxiety and stress among team members – which can also affect physical health. Collaborative spirits wither, and open communication becomes a whispered myth. With each stifled idea and hesitant step, morale takes a relentless beating, leading to disengagement and an alarming rise in burnout cases.

Building a healthy work culture

Trust and empowerment form the bedrock of a positive work environment, enabling employees to unleash their full potential, collaborate effectively, and drive organisational success, all while avoiding the pitfalls of micromanagement.

HR and managers must unite in a deliberate and thoughtful quest to construct a work environment that unlocks the full potential of employees, ignites collaboration, and propels organisational triumph. This looks like:

  1. Clear and transparent communication channels, ensuring that employees are informed and involved in decision-making processes. Engage in the practice of sharing the “why” before the “what,” and be an active seeker of feedback and ideas.
  2. Opportunities for skill development and decision-making authority: this allows individuals to take ownership of their work and contribute to the company’s objectives. Emphasising collaboration and teamwork, like asking for your team’s input for a project you’re working on, also helps build a positive sense of purpose.
  3. Acknowledging and celebrating individual and team achievements to create a positive environment where employees feel valued. This fosters trust and autonomy, further promoting a sense of belonging and engagement.

Freeing your organisation from the grip of micromanagement and fostering a culture of trust and empowerment unlocks the full potential of your employees. Increased productivity, enhanced creativity, and a stronger sense of ownership over their work are just some of the benefits.

If you’re ready to discuss your talent needs, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sitka today. Contact us at 029 2048 4520 or email us at to start the conversation!

To find out how we can work with you, please drop us a line