A sudden shift of the working conditions due to the pandemic has left a lot of employers disoriented which in turn has resulted in the rise of a toxic culture of micromanagement. It is high time that this toxicity should be put to rest and new ways should be adapted to make the work environment positive and healthy again. Not to anyone’s surprise, 2020 was a year where there was a major hike in employee monitoring software that helped the managers to track the working hours of their employees from the comfort of their home, and accordingly make a report on the employee’s minute to minute task.
There are varying views when it comes to managing the work remotely, but whatever the views might be, it is time for them to be updated. The year 2020 has thrown us all into uncomfortable situations, and we all managed to learn slowly throughout the year. Many managers have found handling the remote working very troublesome, and it has led to remote micromanagement of the employees. But now with the start of 2021, it is time to address this issue. The first step to do this is-
Recognizing micromanagement behaviour
When a person is being micromanaged, they understand it, but the person who is micromanaging them does not. This a complicated scenario as there is a thin line between “paying attention to detail”, and “stifling control, demoralizing”. The first stage is to acknowledge that a manager is micromanaging the employees, this can be found out by paying attention to certain symptoms like-
- Do they insist on knowing where the employees are at all times and doing what?
- Do they interfere in tasks that do not require their involvement at all?
- When they assign tasks to employees, do they focus on results or TAT? Assigning an objective is one thing but forcing employees to achieve it at any cost before time turns it into micromanaging.
- Do they blindly trust their team?
- Do they make the employees rework every assignment or task even when it is not required?
- Do they have faith that the team can function successfully if they were absent for a while?
These are the key symptoms that show that the manager is micromanaging their team.
Once it has been discovered that there is the existence of toxic micromanagement, the next step is to reduce that, which can be done by integrating an employee management system. Having said that, recent studies have shown that most of the line managers lack the necessary leadership skills to support their employees. With the onset of working remotely from home, most of the managers showed very little faith that their employees will work productively from home. This is mostly the result of the manager’s or team leaders’ lack of confidence in themselves. They feel that they will fail in leading the employees to work from home. There is an argument that along with employees, even managers should receive timely training to improve their leadership and managerial skills. This will invoke confidence in themselves. Once they are confident enough that they can lead their team successfully, they will no longer feel the need to micromanage everyone. The pandemic has been a trying time for everyone and people often forget that the managers are human beings too. The year 2020 was really challenging for the managers as they had to find an entirely new way to manage employees remotely. Facing an unexpected complicated scenario has resulted in many managers being very uptight about the work. Thus, along with employees, even managers should talk with their mentors to share their feelings and fears.
Focus on results, not details
A rife frustration among the managers is work not being up to their expectations or not how they wanted. With remote working, managers have started to involve themselves more and more in every task of the employees. This becomes very troublesome for employees as the more the managers involve themselves, the less the employees can take ownership of the work. This creates a toxic and helpless environment, thereby demoralizing the employees and making them feel that they are not trusted enough to complete the task themselves.
This needs to be changed and can be done only when the managers start focusing on the outcome and not the process. If employees’ outcomes are good, the managers should restrain themselves from micromanaging. On the other hand, if an employees’ work outcome is not as good as expected, the manager can always provide them with feedback letting them know where they need to work on, instead of micromanaging them. Various HR software can help the managers stay on track with their employees’ performances without micromanaging them.
Even as the offices are slowly starting to open, many organizations have taken the decision that remote working will continue to be an option for their employees. Thus, it is very important to remove the trend of micromanaging as the work from home option might stay on forever.