We all know someone who breathes down your neck just to make sure you’re doing something correctly, right? They don’t give you space, they don’t trust you to work on your own, and more often than not, you’re looking over your shoulder, wondering when the blow will come. They’re managing all right. Your stress levels, maybe, and they’re very good at doing the opposite of what they hope to accomplish: a productive workplace. Harvard Medical School instructor Jonathan D. Quick says that “the leadership qualities of bad bosses over time exert a heavy toll on employees’ health.” One of the lead criticisms of these “bad bosses” is that they micromanage, or maintain an inappropriately close observation and control of a subordinate’s work.
He also said that research has linked having a micromanaging boss to a variety of health issues including chronic stress, high blood pressure, and personal relationship problems. It even drives employees to smoke, drink and overeat, all of which are unhealthy solutions to the issue of added stress in the workplace.
Stress caused by poor management in organizational settings can be debilitating. Not only do stressed-out employees perform their jobs worse and have less energy, but they also suffer health consequences and may become quite ill as a result of stress caused by micromanagement. Your work can be stressful enough as it is! It’s exhausting, worrying that much about not only doing your job correctly but that someone will take issue with it. Unsurprisingly, neither your brain or your body responds well to that level of stress. And if everyone around you feels the same way, that’s not a very healthy office environment.
High Blood Pressure
Often with stress, some other health problems, unfortunately, are likely to follow. An unfavorably-perceived supervisor is a particularly potent workplace stressor, one that could have a clinically significant impact on supervisees’ cardiovascular functioning. NPR writes that micromanagement is routinely the top complaint people have about their bosses. In today’s booming job market where workers have more options and are no longer financially forced to remain in their current position, that’s a bigger problem for employers. If they don’t like your management style, odds are, they can leave and find somewhere better. At that point, maybe they’re no longer stressed, but, you as their employer, are suddenly faced with the problem of being short-staffed. It’s not a cycle most businesses want to find themselves in.
Personal Relationship Problems
The stress that comes with working for a micromanager doesn’t just stop when you clock out for the day, either. It can carry over into your personal life, and personal relationships could consequently get the short end of the stick because they’re a safe place to let out your frustration. You know you won’t get fired if you tell your partner about the horrible week you’ve been having, or how your boss did something that messed up your whole day. It’s natural, to tell the people we love and trust about our problems, but if those issues never go away, that can create a lasting impact on our relationships. Because not only are you feeling the stress of an impossible situation now but so is your family. This stress, in turn, could lead to uncharacteristic comments, or arguments, or otherwise unusual, damaging behavior.
Loss of Autonomy
Lastly, researchers found that people in highly demanding jobs with little control over their workflow were 15.4 percent more likely to die during the study period compared with people in less demanding situations. You read that right: they are more likely to die. Meantime, jobs who also had a high degree of control over their work lives had a 34 percent decrease in the likelihood of death compared with people in less demanding jobs. Stress is unavoidable. But the more pressure, the unhealthier you’re likely going to be and the worse impact it’s going to have on you. As Erik Gonzalez-Mule wrote, “These findings suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making.”
It can be hard to relinquish control, but the statistics don’t lie: micromanaging is detrimental to the workplace. So maybe take a step back, and trust your employees to do their job correctly. Not only will they be happier, but so will you.