The Dangers and Causes of Micromanagement (and What You Can Do about It)


If you're a CEO or VP, you might not be aware of it, but there's a good chance that your company has a culture of micromanagement. In fact, more than 59% of workers report experiencing micromanagement. And while it might not seem like a big deal at first, this type of environment can actually be symptomatic of a much bigger problem: a lack of clear goals and key performance indicators across all business units AND at every level of the org chart. In other words, without a clear north star to guide them, your employees are likely flailing around in the dark, trying to figure out what they should be doing on a day-to-day basis. And when that happens, they will naturally start to second-guess themselves and each other, which can lead to increased stress levels, decreased productivity, and eventually, high turnover rates.

As a leader, it's your responsibility to make sure that everyone in your organization knows what the company's goals are and how their individual roles fit into the bigger picture. Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for failure. It's also a leadership responsibility to know which metrics truly matter as an organization. So if you suspect that your company might be suffering from a case of micromanagementitis, here's what you can do about it.

1. Define the Company's Goals and Objectives at the highest level

Most of you will already be here. Congrats! Startups and all others, take heed! The first step is to sit down with your executive leadership team and define the company's core goals and objectives. What are you trying to achieve? Why does it matter? What are the specific milestones that need to be reached in order for the company to succeed? Once you have answers to these questions, you can start to develop a clear plan for how each business unit can contribute.

2. Create "Nested" Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The next step is to create nested KPIs for each business unit and share them with the relevant team leaders. These KPIs must anchor at every layer of the org chart and roll up to departmental or business unit level KPI's. Obviously, all of these success measurements must be closely aligned with the company's overall goals and objectives. They should also be completely measurable and they should be reviewed on a regular basis. This will give everyone in the organization a clear sense of what they need to do in order to drive results, and who is responsible for which targets at what level of the company.

3. Create a continual feedback loop, and share data in real-time with all KPI stakeholders

Another important step is to encourage open communication between managers and employees. Rather than micromanaging their every move, give employees the freedom to experiment and find new ways to solve problems. Put more energy into who you hire, and then set them free knowing you have a perfect success framework built for your organization. Encourage your team to come to you with questions or concerns – after all, that's what you're there for! – but resist the urge to jump in and take over every time something goes wrong. Remember, your job is to provide guidance and support; it's not to do everything yourself. With a well-thought-out success framework, you can put the pressure on the process and encourage innovation fearlessly.

So what's this all mean?

A culture of micromanagement is often symptomatic of a bigger problem: a lack of clear goals and key performance indicators across all business units AND at every level of the org chart. This leaves room for uncertainty, and that leaves room for OVER-scrutiny of employees. As a leader, it's your responsibility to make sure that everyone in your organization knows what the company's goals are and how their individual roles fit into the bigger picture. Otherwise, you're just setting yourself up for failure. So if you suspect that your company might be suffering from a case of micromanagementitis, use these tips to get things back on track.

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