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Micromanagers In An Office Setting: Combating Negative Workplace Behavior

By Stephen Brandofino

If there is one thing everyone hates in any job, it's being micromanaged. Micromanagers are awful for workplace settings because they undermine the capability of hard working employees, spreading negativity and doubt throughout the office. 

While the employees who micromanage those they supervise, we all know them, don’t mean to cause harm and chaos in their office, they often do. Micromanagers often ruin harmonious and effective offices when the jobs being performed by employees are so important, yet so undermined at the same time.

Luckily, there are strategies to both prevent micromanaging in your organization and combat it that are specifically important to recognize in government settings. Read on to learn about the reasons some employees tend to micromanage others, why it halts productivity, and how to stop it before it even begins!

Table Of Contents: What To Expect   

  • Micromanagement Defined
  • The Dangers of Micromanagement
  • Why Do Employees Micromanage Others? 
  • How To Combat Micromanagers In Your Office

Overview: What Is Micromanaging? 

A micromanager is a supervisor that excessively controls and too-closely observes the work of their subordinates. This leads to a micromanager often attempting to dictate how tasks should be completed, even if the employee completing the project is confident, capable, and successful without their overbearing guidance. 

This management style often comes across as a lack of trust and confidence in employees, leading to decreased productivity, decreased employee morale, stifled creativity, reduced and oftentimes even increased employee turnover. Usually, micromanagers think they are making a huge positive impact in the office and ensuring work is completed perfectly, when in reality they are causing others stress and frustration. 

Read our guide on Creating A Positive Work Culture In Local Government Offices!

The Harms of Micromanagement In Office Settings

Micromanagers are notoriously controlling and cause issues throughout their workplace. The irony being, they think they are being helpful. Read on to learn about some of the many damaging aspects of micromanagement below: 

  • It Causes Employee Anxiety

Studies have proven time and time again that employees perform best when they feel like their managers trust and place value in them. Confidence from management, even if constructive criticism is involved, makes employees feel motivated, confident, and self-assured. 

However, when managers and supervisors constantly critique their subordinates, make unnecessary negative comments, and insist that their methodology is the only correct way, employees feel stressed and undervalued. If workers arrive at work full of anxiety and angst, they will not be able to focus on their jobs, and will soon start to resent their workplace and position. 

Consider our Local Government Employee Appreciation Strategy here!

  • Decreased Productivity 

One of the key reasons to build employees' confidence within their role is they often become motivated to continue to perform well, and even out-do their past work. However once employees anticipate constant criticism and perfection from their managers, they start to do the bare-minimum. This comes from a combination of resentment, frustration and anger that makes employees think, “Even when I try my best I am criticized, so why try so hard?”

Read this article on 5 Common Local Government Productivity Roadblocks

  • Less Motivation To Perform

Most motivation in employees has been shown to come from positive encouragement, active communication with leadership, and by gaining confidence by completing tasks independently. However, when an office environment doesn’t foster employees' constant learning, growth in their role, and confidence, workers tend to feel more frustrated and demoralized than anything else

The key to motivating employees is highlighting what they have done well, and how to grow in their role through encouragement and open communication. With micromanagers in an office, employees don’t enjoy the same freedom to develop their skills and learn from mistakes because they don’t see the point in going above and beyond.

  • Negative Workplace Culture 

A workplace’s culture is a delicate thing. The culture of your workplace affects the way employees feel when they clock in and how they ultimately make an impact in their roles. When one or multiple supervisors in your local government are making life harder for their coworkers by micromanaging their work, processes, and timelines, employees will start to dread the office. 

Workplace culture can be affected greatly by even one problem employee. It is vital that you ensure all employees are treating others appropriately to stop your municipal offices from becoming a beacon of anxiety and stress for those who work there. 

Local Government Employee Retention is vital, learn about it here!

A Deeper Understanding: Why Do People Micromanage?

Finding out why people micromanage others is just as important as learning how to stop this behavior. There are typically underlying reasons that employees start to micromanage their subordinates and learning them is the vital first step to being able to change them: 

  • Personal Anxiety 

Oftentimes, “control freaks” or micromanagers have anxieties of their own to manage which often cause them to critique others in a form of self soothing. When managers are overly critical of very small aspects of a project, to the point that it becomes disruptive to workflows, it is usually because they have an overwhelming drive to control all situations to ensure they face no unplanned surprises. 

Read on about Crafting a Vision for Mental Health Wellness in Your Community

  • Attempts To Out-Perform Coworkers 

Sometimes certain employees in our offices experience a powerful drive to be the best, and to rise above their peers, who they may see as competition. While this is not the healthiest way to advance their careers, sometimes micromanagers can’t help but feel that they need to put others down in order to stand out. 

When a workplace consists of employees that view their coworkers as competition instead of teammates, projects get complicated and often experience unnecessary slow downs. It is important that you don’t allow a culture of unhealthy competition to arise as it makes collaboration much more difficult. 

Read more about Interdepartmental Government Communication Strategy here!

  • Pride and Insecurity 

While pride and insecurity may seem like opposites, they can go hand in hand in this situation. Many employees with a tendency to micromanage others are insecure about the output of their own work, and feel that criticizing others can make them feel more secure in their position. An easy, yet unhealthy way for these employees to elevate their status is to boss others around and assume the role of the “leader” even if they don’t have the qualities to be an effective project lead. 

How To Combat Micromanagers and Change Their Perspectives

Finally, read on to learn the key ways to combat micromanagers in your office and prevent negative behaviors before they even begin: 

1. Support All Workers On Any Level Of Seniority 

In your municipal office, there are likely workers from every walk of life and at different points of their career. Whether an employee has years of experience in government or is working in an entry-level role, they deserve to feel supported and uplifted by their supervisors. 

Oftentimes, employees just beginning their careers hesitate to speak up for themselves in office settings for fear of being punished or losing their job. This is why it is vital that administrators and upper management keep an open line of communication with all employees that fosters trust, transparency and credibility. 

Read our guide on Navigating Office Politics From The Top Down.

2. Foster a Culture of Trust Among Coworkers

If coworkers don’t trust each other, or view each other with bias as incapable, your departments will struggle with interdepartmental communication, project completion, and productivity. Ideally, all workers in your local government offices will be professional, and treat everyone with respect and conscientiousness. 

It is the job of government officials and upper management to ensure all coworkers are being polite, professional, and kind to one another. Set an example for other employees by encouraging workers to learn and grow in their roles, take chances, and work together to collaborate. Collaboration is often improved when workers are encouraged to complete their tasks with effort and positivity while assuming others will do the same for their portion of a project. Building confidence in a department’s entire team eliminates the need for employees to manage each other's work for fear it won’t be completed well. 

Consider our guide on How To Run an Ethical and Equitable Community.

3. Teach Employees the Harms of Micromanagement 

Surprisingly, most of those employees who micromanage others are convinced they are ensuring a gold standard of work and actually benefiting your institution in a positive way. Utilizing employee meetings to address all of the complications that arise when coworkers start critiquing and micromanaging each other will likely shed light on the reality of how certain actions come across to others. 

Define micromanagement for your employees, and explain that even positive intentions have a negative effect when behaving in a controlling manner. This knowledge may seem obvious, but to people with these tendencies, sometimes conducting reminders for your office are the best way to set expectations in your workplace.

4. Define Strict Roles and Responsibilities 

A very effective way of getting ahead of micromanagement in your office is by ensuring all employees have clear direction to define their roles, responsibilities, subordinates, supervisors and expectations. 

When employees know exactly what is expected of them, what they are responsible for and what their daily tasks entail, they are less likely to involve themselves in their coworkers business or projects. Employees that micromanage other workers with the same level of seniority will also be guided to treat everyone like an equal instead, as they will be made aware of their role or lack of a role in supervising others. 

Learn all about How To Handle A Problem Employee In Your Local Government Office

Eliminate Unhealthy Behaviors In Your Municipality Now 

Local government officials, administrators, and department supervisors should get on top of any problems being caused in your office by micromanagers. Take the time to consider who may be micromanaging other employees and why. This is the first step to improving your office's culture and combating negative employee behaviors. Utilize GovPilot software to define roles, stay on top of interdepartmental communication, streamline workflows and maintain appropriate checks and balances at work. Book a consultation with GovPilot to learn more about how we can help you! 

Micromanagement In Offices FAQs

  • Why do micromanagers damage productivity? 

Micromanagers tend to have negative effects on employee morale, motivation, and confidence. These factors all impact how productive an employee can be and even the quality of work they produce. When people are being micromanaged, they often get frustrated with the criticism and stop giving their all to projects. 

  • Why is it vital that micromanagers are controlled in an office setting? 

It is important that micromanagers aren’t allowed to behave in a controlling way, because this increases the rates of employee turnover and halts productivity. With micromanagers in your office, anxiety and negative feelings about work arise and should be avoided at all costs.

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Tags: Government Efficiency