For a couple of months now, we’ve seen over and over in our beloved Client Horror Stories podcast that there’s no redder flag than the moment a client starts micromanaging you, and you just know there’s no turning back from that point. They get controlling, measuring your activity, being 24⁄7 on top of what you do, how you do it, and how long it takes for you to do it.
And the thing is this is not a problem only when it comes to the clients you work for, but also for the employees that work for you (because well, aren’t you a client to them in some sort of way?). So today, we’ll deep dive into how to tell when an employee is slowly moving towards the people-who-have-to-be-micromanaged spectrum and the chaos that will create, so you avoid doing that same thing to your clients.
How to tell
Well, you know that client who all of a sudden (apparently) started texting you 10 times an hour, and started asking a lot of questions, and constantly asking to receive updates? Well, that’s how you tell you are being micromanaged, but now let’s turn the situation backwards. Let’s say you have an employee that keeps missing deadlines, you never see them actually get any work done, they continuously seem to be wasting time on anything other than working, and slowly they start checking out of their jobs. And slowly you start feeling this urge to push, push and push some more: asking what they’ve been up to, how long do they think something will take, continuously supervising what they are doing and how, and ongoing steps of the “every step you take I’ll be watching you” process. So that’s how you learn that you are having a micromanaging required situation.
Nightmare 1: the time it takes
I don’t mean to judge anyone’s time or how they want to spend it, but I’m guessing that wasting hours every day chasing around an employee that just doesn’t get things done must be very annoying. I mean, clients hire people to do things because probably they need them done by some point in the future, and every second you spend on the task is money for them, but not only that — is a second away from getting their achievements! And every second you waste chasing your employee is a second away from getting your stuff done too, so we should definitely define the #1 nightmare as the amount of time that you waste with an employee who just won’t do things unless you are pushing them 24⁄7.
Nightmare 2: the frustration
Besides the time you waste, there’s another more exhausting thing you also waste when an employee forces you to be on top of them all the time: so much energy! If you thought wasting your hours chasing an employee, imagining wasting all that energy on asking him stuff, controlling him, analyzing, and everything micromanaging means, only to end up watching them not being able to do things on their own over and over again. It’s pretty obvious no human being will be able to deal with the frustration of not receiving what they expected from the person you specifically chose to get that done, even less if you are also paying them to get that done. So it’s not only the time it takes but also how frustrating it gets when you realize that you will pretty much never receive the things you ask for by their deadlines.
Nightmare 3: the tension
A relationship between someone who micromanages and the person that’s being micromanaged will never be a happy and healthy one. Either because the client or boss will always be frustrated and/or expecting the worst, or because their employee is absolutely done with having them on top all the time, the reality is there will be a lot of tension between them. And, if you are lucky, that tension will be between you two exclusively, but if you are not, that tension can be translated into the entire workplace, and damage your entire team’s dynamic. So the third nightmare that we face is how badly micromanaging can affect our work relationships and our company’s environment.
Nightmare 4: the outcome
Sadly, the world we live in, and all our experiences with clients and employees have taught us this one thing: there’s no way back from micromanaging. Once a client starts micromanaging you, you just know they’ll never trust you to handle things on your own again. Whether it’s because of a lack of trust from their side, or a lack of results from yours, the reality is that they will never end up happily and with an enjoyable work relationship. And the same happens with employees: you won’t go back from the frustration you believe they put you through (by being unable to get things done on their own), and they probably won’t get over having you on their back 24⁄7, or worse, getting used to you chasing them to get things done! So the final nightmare that we face when it comes to micromanaging is this one: no matter how things actually end up, the outcome will never be to be beloved by the people you work with or for.
So basically, the reality is that every now and then we run into people who a) like to micromanage, or b) need to be micromanaged or else nothing gets done. However, no matter the case or context, this will always be a negative thing for our businesses’ workflow and results, and even more for our own and our employees’ and clients’ mental health. So as a general rule of thumb, please leave micromanaging outside the workplace.