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Workplace Engagement InsightsLatest Employee Engagement NewsMicro-Managers and Emotions in the Workplace

Micro-Managers and Emotions in the Workplace

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I conduct half-day and full-day Leadership Boot Camps and as part of the presentation, I have the people in the room break into two groups. Group One describes the best boss they ever had and Group Two describes the worst boss.

The most interesting part is when I ask the people to tell me the emotions they felt for each of the characteristics of both the good and bad bosses. When we get to bosses who micro-manage, who watch the clock to make sure everyone puts in their full day, and who don’t connect with them at a personal level, they most often describe the felt emotion as a “Lack of Trust”.

Micro-ManagerI am not sure that micro-managers understand that they are having a profound impact on the emotional wellbeing of their team. Because fewer than 1 in 9 first line supervisors are given any formal training or development before taking on the role, how can they know what good leadership looks like? If they had a bad boss then perhaps they will mirror their poor habits?

If we look at North American norms, we know that fewer than 16% of all employees like a tightly-controlled environment. The 16% will generally drift toward companies where employees need to be managed tightly for regulatory purposes, like jobs in restaurants, food processing, drug manufacturing, and so on. However the reality is that over 84% of the population do not like to be closely managed – and of that number, 16% absolutely chafe at the idea of tight oversight.

Get Insights about the Leaders in Your Organization – Are They Micro-Managing?

Employee engagement surveys give you insight into each leader in your organization and allow you to help them learn about how to adapt to new leadership habits that will build trust, confidence, and energy to do a top notch job. However, when left to their own devices they will (more often than not) not be able to succeed.

How do I know that? Because when we ask first line supervisors after their first year in the job how they think they are doing, 66% of them will tell you that they think they are doing a great job. When we ask the employees the same question, 75% think they have a lousy boss!

How can this disconnect happen? It happens because we don’t train them. It happens because a bad boss never engenders a positive trusting workplace, so they are seldom given any feedback from their employees. Most often, this happens because the employees fear having an open honest conversation with their boss.

Want to take a crack at changing this? Start with a survey. Use the survey to begin the dialogue in your company and to slowly build a culture of open honest feedback.  A culture of caring. 

Doing this will eventually root out the political animals, the bullies, and the incompetents. You owe that much to your employees.


We can help you get started with an engagement survey, and then move you along the path to a great culture with our training and coaching processes. Get in touch now for a free consultation!

Start engaging your employees right away. Get access to my FREE cheatsheet for improving employee engagement in just 10 minutes!

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Written by Dwight Lacey

Dwight Lacey

Dwight is the President at Workplace Engagement Insights. He leads Workplace Engagement Insights with a clear understanding of the latest employee engagement research, survey best practices, and leadership styles that create successful businesses.

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