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It’s been almost a year since there was a mass movement to remote work. Many employers are looking at having remote workers and hybrid teams for the foreseeable future.

While that’s good news in some ways, it does present its share of challenges. Many are still figuring out how to manage remote teams effectively.

To that end, there’s been more talk about micromanagement. Micromanagement isn’t appreciated by employees. It can be especially problematic for remote workers though, as it can limit their productivity.

Why is micromanagement such a death knell for remote productivity, and how can you make sure you avoid it? We pulled together this guide to help you recognize micromanagement when it happens, as well as the reasons to avoid it.

What Is Micromanagement?

Imagine you’ve been asked to check in with your supervisor every hour. What about a supervisor who wants a detailed report about what you did each hour, so they can evaluate your time management? Some supervisors may call frequent “update” meetings.

This is micromanagement. You can see how it quickly eats up the employee’s time. Instead of focusing on their actual work, they’re busy jotting down notes and preparing these detailed reports. They’re sitting in meetings or they’re turning over their work for review, seemingly for no other reason than to assure their manager of their productivity.

Why Micromanagement Is a Drain on Productivity

In a micromanagement situation, employees spend so much time detailing their activities, updating, checking in, and reviewing with managers that their actual work suffers. They don’t have time in the day to accomplish important tasks, because they’re writing up that report or prepping for their next update meeting.

Stopping what you’re doing to send over even a quick note on a regular basis is an interruption. It takes just over 20 minutes to recover your focus after a distraction. This is why email is such a huge drain on your employees’ time.

The same is true with micromanagement. Even if you think “send an update message on the hour” isn’t a big ask, it’s interrupting your team, taking them out of the flow of their work. They then have to settle back in. The end result is they’re often getting less than two-thirds of every hour in productivity.

Why Your Employees Hate It

Micromanagement grates on employees for another reason. It makes them feel incompetent. Instead of trusting that they’re skilled professionals with good time management, micromanagement makes them feel like they’re being “babysat.” You’re watching their every move.

Most employees would rather you just let them work! For the most part, you can trust that your team members are going to put their nose to the grindstone and get work done.

That’s not to say you never want to check in with your remote team. Having regular update meetings or asking employees to check in about questions when they crop up is just good practice. You might want to ask them for a quick “update” at the end of their shift, just so everyone knows where projects or tasks stand.

It’s easy to get into a micromanagement situation with remote employees, because it’s difficult to truly measure their productivity and keep tabs on their time. Often though, if projects or tasks are falling behind, there’s another issue, such as stress or even micromanagement.

Striking a Balance

You want to be sure you’re communicating with your team, and there’s almost no such thing as overcommunication when it comes to your remote workers. You still want to watch out for micromanaging tendencies.

The solution to micromanagement is to trust in your team. They are professionals and they have great skills! That’s why you hired them. Ask them to keep you apprised of project status and be sure everyone knows your inbox is open if anything crops up. Otherwise, trust that they’ll get the job done.

If you’re concerned about productivity, then adding a human resources information system to your HR department can be a great investment. Learn more about how the HRIS can help you monitor productivity, spot who is struggling, and even plan time on projects!


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