Micromanagement Versus Empowerment

By Eric Dickmann

September 28, 2021

Empowerment, Micromanagement

There’s a battle between micromanagement versus empowerment. Micromanagement is dead, and empowerment is on the rise! Managers need to stop bossing around and start empowering their people. Empowered employees are more engaged and vested in the success of a business. To get the best results, organizational culture must evolve. It should be one of shared accountability, not excessive management control.


What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is to control every part of a business or activity. It is excessive authority and attention to detail. A micromanager observes and controls everything an employee does. It often comes from a lack of trust or feeling that “they know best.” It’s the opposite of empowerment and autonomy.

Often times, micromanagement stems from a lack of trust. It may have rooted in past experiences. Other times, a manager may feel the employee is incapable. That he cannot work alone to achieve the desired outcome. It may be due to a lack of training or differences of opinion on the desired outcome. In the worst cases, it’s the result of ego. There’s a feeling that one person is superior and that other ideas or ways of working are inferior to their own.

Signs of a Micromanager


What is Empowerment?

The Balance Career defined empowerment as enabling an individual to control work. It is authorizing them to make decisions about how to perform their work. It helps them discover their true potentials and be accountable for their actions. Empowerment is trust and a reliance on the skills and abilities of an employee to complete their work as expected.

Employees who can make job decisions can solve problems better. They can move faster from task to task because they don’t need to wait for a manager’s direction or approval. Likewise, they feel more trusted, which in turn, boosts their morale.


Impact of Micromanagement Versus Empowerment

A business needs control because every decision comes with some risk. But managers need to trust employees. They need to make them feel valued at work if they hope to create a thriving organizational culture. Let us compare to understand the need to micromanage versus empower:

Death of a Team Performance


Impact on Organizational Culture

Trust is essential to organizational culture. Micromanagement kills ownership and promotes a lack of trust. In contrast, empowerment cultivates a culture of trust. It energizes initiative within a company’s culture.


Impact on People

Control is imperative when a leader needs to deal with poor performance. Watching and directing an individual can help improve their performance. But that should be a short-term problem. If employees can’t perform at a level needed to give them autonomy, they might not be a fit for the company. Empowerment has a positive impact on motivation, and motivation leads to better performance.


Impact on Process

There are times when it makes sense to get involved with processes. Micromanage critical tasks to ensure things go according to plan. Sometimes, serious issues arise which need a hands-on approach by managers. Employees making their own decisions can optimize the way they perform their jobs. They create more efficient processes. Empowerment fosters initiative and innovation.

Signs of a Micromanager


Impact on Product

A micromanager has clear-cut ideas on the best way to create a product or service. It can exclude other employees from contributing ideas and stifle innovation. Employee independence increases creativity and results in a more innovative collaboration of ideas.


Impact on Profit

Scrutiny and close examination of a subordinate’s work is costly. Micromanagement means that managers are focusing their efforts on someone else’s job. Managers should seek to remove obstacles to employee productivity, not create them. Increase employee turnover also affects the profit of a business. When employees feel micromanaged, it hurts their engagement. There’s a likelihood that they will become dissatisfied and leave the company.


How Employers can Become Great Motivators

Whether you notice it or not, employers are not only seen as leaders or implementers; they are looked up to in the workplace as role models. Being a role model is more than basic task distribution and simple words of motivation, it is guiding by example. Recognizing that your team members are at different stages of their career and have varying learning curves is the first step in becoming a great example. Along with this recognition, you should able to consistently help them reach their goals b y reminding them of their purpose and providing each with the tools that they would be needing moving forward. Investing in your team is the greatest investment you can make for your company! Inc shares some tips to effectively motivate your employees:

What Motivates Employees Today?
  • Incentivize your employees- Who wouldn’t want a good incentive? Remember, that not all incentives have to be in the form of cash or check. Simple things such as paid and vacation leaves or tokens of gratitude for every accomplished project would do.
  • Set smaller and attainable weekly goals- There are many employers who give a month’s worth of work for a 5-day work week. To motivate your employees to work better and also ensure quality of the given tasks, give them attainable tasks along with weekly standards. Setting  your standards lessen the margin of error and saves time in rechecking and revisions.
  • Learn what makes employees tick- Try to connect with your employees individually. Some workers get motivated by a compliment, some are objective-driven, and quite a few prefer the monetary incentives. Do what you can to build a bond of trust and cooperation between you and each team member. Remember, a  happy employee equates to a motivated tea m, while a motivated team can lead to increased productivity, therefore leading to higher gains.
  • Prioritize work-life balance- The most common issue why employees quit their jobs is because of an inconsistent work-life balance. Learn how to respect their off days and give the team enough time to unwind and breathe. Do not pressure them to work beyond their work hours. Your team’s physical and mental health should be your utmost priority.
Effect of Poor Work-Life Balance

 

  • Let them lead and promote freedom of expression- At some point, you would need to choose employees who you can pass the leadership role to. As early as possible, teach your employees how to lead small projects and teams. Give them the responsibility to handle projects without your full supervision. Allow them to give input on your company’s plans. There are times that their suggestions are really the answers you are looking for.
  • Show them the bigger picture- While you are confident that they are working excellently with their routine tasks, it is also essential for you to explain to them why they should perform tasks and how it impacts the company as a whole. If your company is working on a long-term project, show them your vision and illustrate the expected results and expectations. It always feels nice to be working for a cause!
Employees work harder when appreciated


Conclusion

In today’s organizations, empowered employees can give companies an edge. Management control is still needed. But hiring good people and letting them do their jobs is important. It builds a thriving organizational culture. Leaders can have strong ideas and opinions. They set the direction of the organization. But their efforts are best focused on strategy. Make sure to empower employees in executing strategic plans. Hiring the right people and trust them to do their jobs. It will allow for scale that’s not possible when leaders feel the need to micromanage.

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Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

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