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The dreaded micromanager

Who doesn’t hate a manager constantly breathing down their team’s neck? From checking in on every step in a project to controlling someone’s lunch break, micromanagement can have damaging effects on team productivity and morale. Studies show lack of autonomy at work affects a person’s level of stress and can have negative health effects, potentially even pushing them closer to death. But while everybody likes autonomy, are they willing to face the repercussions when things go wrong? Or are they simply interested in freedom at work? Gulf News readers debate.

  • Freelance Arabic Editor/Writer living in DubaiImage Credit: Supplied
  • Joy Thomas Alookaran, Director of a management consultancy based in AjmanImage Credit: Supplied
  • Bhavna Kewalramani, Jewellery designer living in SharjahImage Credit: Supplied
Gulf News


Find out what style works for you and your employee

I would agree to a certain extent that people aren’t aware of the responsibility that comes with freedom at work. I don’t find it very evident in employees, at least in this region. Sometimes, employees have an attitude of “it is someone else’s responsibility” for almost every work, there is very little accountability.

But it also differs from case to case. A manager should measure the employee’s aptitude and style of working. For example, with me, since I am from a creative field, I would not prefer to be micromanaged. I would need the freedom to generate ideas. A high-pressure environment limits your creative ability and means you produce less ideas. But at the same time, you cannot allow somebody to do their work on their own if the attitude is not there. As they say with freedom comes great responsibility.

Managers tend to micromanage when there is a misunderstanding of a job role. Also, a manager who is used to the culture of micromanaging is measuring everything by getting involved, which does not necessarily help the employee. May be they need to take a step back and gauge what the employee’s working style is. Does he need to be micromanaged or be given freedom? It can make your work relationship much better.

From Mr Ion Gonzaga

Lifestyle blogger living in Dubai


I know the ground reality, so I don’t control my team

I don’t think I am a controlling manager. We have a team of managers and then a marketing team and they are doing well. We give them the freedom at work and once a week, we evaluate their performance. Based on the targets and the timelines that were set we are able to understand whether we are working in the right direction.

I also don’t think people want just the freedom and not the responsibility. From my experience, once they get freedom at work they also show that they understand the seriousness of the work.

We are a management consultancy, so we know it is not easy to convince people of our services. Even if the executive is not immediately successful, I understand that the benefits might come later.

Because I have worked right from the executive level I know what the reality of the market is. Even when I was an employee, I did not have a manager who was controlling. I explored the market the way I found suitable and when I established my company back in 2013, I gave my team the same freedom. That is how my previous employers have thrived, and that is how my company is building business, too.

From Mr Joy Thomas Alookaran

Director of a management consultancy based in Ajman


Autonomy at work comes at a price

Everyone would love to have this freedom but there are consequences, too. As a freelancer, I know the price of that freedom. I don’t get a fixed salary every month, it depends on the volume of work. Sometimes, I have to work on vacations and sometimes during my children’s breaks. Even though I work online and from the convenience of my home, it is still quite competitive and I have to accept work that I don’t necessarily like because I don’t want to be without challenges for too long. I need to be in the market and freelance work comes with its advantages and disadvantages.

As a mother of three children, I prefer working on a freelance basis, even though I have been offered jobs that are quite tempting. I cannot work long hours and have suffered because of managers who are quite bossy and want things done in a very particular way. Micromanagement sometimes stands in the way of your creativity. So, my work gives me freedom compared to a full-time job.

However, it is definitely a risk. You might be free to take decisions, but you still have to listen to your clients and your agency, so it is always better to be cautious and keep in mind what your manager or client is demanding. In fact, I think the average employee is always looking at the expectations of his boss, so I think they are thinking about the responsibility much before the freedom.

From Ms Gihan Faisal

Freelance Arabic editor/writer living in Dubai


If you work with an experienced team, you don’t need to be monitoring constantly

I do agree that entrepreneurs tend to micromanage and it probably works for them. But, for me, it doesn’t. I am a jewellery designer and work with craftsmen in India and because my main team is in another country I need to make sure we work productively and also in terms of coordination. I guess I am really lucky to be working with a team that is extremely good at what it does.

So, when I went to meet the suppliers, I made sure I am not too picky. For example, I let them show me their work and I worked myself around it. Previously, I have seen so many instances of when you get too involved in the other person’s work and they don’t do the work the way you want and you end up unhappy with the whole process. That is a huge waste of time, too. I have always been the kind of person who first asks the craftsman what they would like to do. If I have provided a design and you think changes should be made to it, tell me. They like working in that manner, too. If you start cribbing they won’t really enjoy working with you.

Right now, I have a very good relationship with them. They love having me around probably because I don’t micromanage. So, when it comes to things like credit, they don’t really keep reminding me either. It has become a beautiful working relationship. So, I am completely against micromanagement. Because, more importantly, I am a mum as well. Why should I micromanage? I also want to be as free as possible.

It also depends on the kind of people you work with. I work with workers who have over 30 years of experience in the business, so you don’t really need to tell them much. It is only once you don’t have faith in your team that you start meddling. Also if you have always been a control freak, you will always be like that.

From Ms Bhavna Kewalramani

Jewellery designer living in Sharjah

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor

Gulf News asked: Does your boss have a tendency to micromanage?

Yes 48%

No 52%

Have Your Say: Is your boss too controlling? Why do you think people tend to micromanage? Is it a fear of losing control over work? Or do they simply find sadistic joy in controlling people’s lives?