Why micromanaging is bad for the work environment

Four years could amount to many things like high school, college, license expiration dates and so on. However, four years at a job is quite a long time and gives license to the assumption that one would know what they’re doing. At least I thought so until one fateful Saturday.

A few weeks ago, I was neck deep in a shift at the mall that I thought would never end. I have worked for the establishment for so long that I was on autopilot and honestly could not have cared less about the day. Now, born with a good sixth sense, I had a feeling the day was going to go left without a turn signal on so I just had to wait it out and see if I was right.

As I stood with my back to the entrance of the establishment to talk to a customer, I felt a presence that was almost dark. It was as if the energy shifted and my mood was instantly blown. After I turned my attention away from the customer, I looked over and see my manager across the zone, or section, with her ear towards me and fixing a display I knew I had fixed ten minutes beforehand. I immediately knew what was going on: I was being micro-managed.

Before this point, I’ve been micro-managed at many jobs, mainly fast food. I’m not equipped to be in food service, so that was extremely understandable. However, this was a blow not only to me, but to the work and sweat I’d put in to know the job and the company.

I never confronted her about the action, mostly because I knew that I’d probably lose my job for the way I would most likely approach her. She continued to look over my shoulder most of the day and I steadily lost all will to do my job right. Even though I know that wasn’t the best approach in hindsight, I was over this whole situation and the job in general.

I left work three hours later, irritated and unmotivated. I began to really reflect on micro-management and how ineffective it is.

I then began to think about managers who feel they must keep a watchful eye on the associates who seemingly aren’t reaching their full potential. In reality, the associates may be over-achieving while the bosses believe they are slackers and unfit for work.

I seldom complain about work, outside of lack of working hours or any other miniscule grievance. This time, my complaint put a big magnifying glass on the fact that this one manager had so little faith in her employees, that she felt it necessary to eavesdrop on who is “saying the right promos” and who isn’t. I left work with all this in mind and didn’t even say goodbye when I left. My headphones took my attention away from my lips and usual friendliness.

I began to really think about how she became a manager with this attitude, which also included rudeness, a cold disposition and a generally abrasive attitude. I wondered why I wasn’t approached to take the position because unlike this woman, I pretty much know how to keep it cute for the floor. I was undone that entire week, even when I worked the very next day with her. I could no longer make nice and I was tired of trying to be nice. I hit a wall and I was ready for it be knocked down.

So a word to the managers who micro-manage: Don’t. The employees get nothing from it. It’s like waterboarding, you can try to force the words out through any means, but it just will not work for some. People don’t need to be watched over to correctly do the jobs that they love and seek to do better in. It’s no secret that everyone hates a nosy, nitpick of a supervisor, so there’s no effectiveness in the practice. Motivation dies because employees feel as if they can’t do their jobs right no matter what they do, so they just give up. There’s no purpose in it and it make you as a manager look anal and overall intolerable.

Now, I must go back to the wanted ads. I’m almost certain I might need another job after this one.

Chris Battle

(Photo: Val Miller | Marlin Chronicle)