Psychological Effects of Micromanagement


psychological effects of micromanagement

One of the most common characteristics of a bad boss is micromanagement.

It can be frustrating, demoralizing, and negatively impact your performance at work.

But the impact can go beyond just the workplace. There are also psychological effects of micromanagement.

To that end, this article breaks down micromanagement, the common signs, and the psychological effects of micromanagement.

All of the content below is provided by career experts who weighed in on the topic.

Let’s dive in.

What is Micromanagement

thinking person

Micromanagement is a style of management where managers closely observe and control the work of their employees, typically by giving detailed instructions on how tasks should be performed.

This type of management can be seen in many different forms, including micromanaging meetings or sitting in on conference calls to ensure that specific protocols are being followed.

The above definition was provided by Marcos Isaias, Founder & CEO, Misaias.

What Are the Common Signs of Micromanagement?

1. Employees More Focused on Trying to Please the Boss Than The Work Itself

You know you’re being micromanaged if your #1 challenge is trying to predict whether your boss will like what you do or not. Employees who are not micromanaged stay focused on the challenge of achieving the goals they’ve been given, not only making their boss happy.

The above content was provided by Chas Cooper, CEO, Luminos, publisher of Acendance.

2. Stressed Out Employees

i hate my job but can't quit

The most common sign of micromanagement is stressed out employees! That said, the biggest sign that I look for is an employee who is second-guessing him- or herself.

When an employee is constantly made to answer for the work they are doing, they get the message that they’re not doing it correctly. When that message is reinforced again and again and again, they get the message that their judgment is never right, and that they need to constantly ask if what they’re doing is correct.

When I see an otherwise capable employee asking again and again if their work looks OK, I assume they’re being micromanaged.

The above content was provided by Michael Morris, Editorial Director, Rough and Tumble Gentleman.

3. Excessive Monitoring of Employee Activity

One prominent sign is the excessive monitoring and control exhibited by micromanagers. They tend to closely track their employees’ work, seeking constant progress updates, and requesting detailed reports, even for minor tasks. This level of scrutiny leaves employees feeling as though they are constantly under surveillance and hampers their ability to work autonomously.

The above content was provided by Matthew Warzel, President, MJW Careers.

4. Greater Focus on Process Than Results

business results

Micromanagers tend to focus more on how tasks are completed, rather than the end result of those tasks. This often involves providing detailed instructions and constantly monitoring progress.

The above content was provided by Dr. Harold Wong, Psychiatrist, New Waters Recovery.

5. Frequent Check-ins

Managers who constantly request updates, progress reports, or demand to be kept in the loop about even minor details demonstrate a micromanagement tendency.

The above content was provided by Maria Szandrach, CEO, Mentalyc.

What Are The Psychological Effects of Micromanagement?

thinking person

The psychological effects of micromanagement can be detrimental to employees’ well-being and job satisfaction. These effects may include:

  1. Increased stress and anxiety due to constant scrutiny and pressure.
  2. Decreased motivation and job engagement as employees feel disempowered and undervalued.
  3. Lowered self-esteem and confidence as employees’ abilities and judgment are consistently questioned.
  4. Reduced creativity and innovation as employees fear making mistakes or taking risks.
  5. Decreased job satisfaction and increased turnover as employees feel untrusted and unappreciated.
  6. Strained relationships and communication breakdowns between managers and employees.
  7. Reduced sense of autonomy and ownership over work, leading to a lack of initiative and decreased productivity.
  8. Negative impact on mental health, including feelings of frustration, helplessness, and burnout.

The above content was provided by Smita D Jain, Founder & CEO, Empower Yourself.

What Should You Do If You’re Being Micromanaged

relieved from job

Have a candid, but respectful conversation with your manager. I’ve found that micromanagers often aren’t aware that they’re micromanaging. Highlight a specific example of a time when your manager defined both the goal to accomplish and then also dictated the approach, and why that was an issue for you.

Ask the manager if it would be OK to only define the goal, not the approach. If your manager has concerns with what approach you might take, then ask the manager to define the constraints to your approach. In other words, let the manager tell you what you CAN’T do in your approach, not the exact approach that you CAN do.

The above content was provided by Chas Cooper, CEO, Luminos, publisher of Acendance.


Micromanagement can be difficult to deal with both personally and professionally.

If you find yourself struggling with a micromanager as a boss, attempt to have a candid and respectful conversation with that manager. 

Hopefully, things improve by just making them aware of the issue.

And, if not, life is too short to work a job you hate so good find something that would be a better fit.

About the author

Dan Slocum

Dan is the founder of Best Fit Work and is a business professional with over 10 years of experience. He has been a hiring and people manager on multiple occasions, and has also gone through the hiring process himself at a variety of different companies. Dan writes to share content, tools, and resources to help people discover and thrive in their own best fit work.

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