Is Micro-Managing Simultaneously Driving Good Employees Away And Attracting Litigation?

Are you a micro-manager?

  • If you want to be involved with every aspect of your employees' job duties…you might be a micro-manager.
  • If you want to approve everything your employees do…you might be a micro-manager.
  • If you often remind employees how to do their jobs…you might be a micro-manager.
  • If you believe no one can do a job right without you…you might be a micro-manager.

So, what does it matter if you are a micro-manager or your employees perceive you as a micro-manager?

According to a TINYpulse survey quoted recently in Forbes, 28 percent of employees consider leaving employment because of micro-management. On the other side of the coin, freedom to make decisions is directly related to employee job satisfaction. This means not only does micro-managing drive employees away, but it also prevents employees from loving their jobs.

As the source article notes, employees leave management and not the job. Victor Lipman, "Why Do Employees Leave Their Jobs? New Survey Offers Answers," www.forbes.com (Oct. 10, 2015).

We know micromanaging increases turnover, and turnover costs money and productivity, and there are other problems as well.

Turnover increases the work burden on existing employees who have to pick up the slack after an employee leaves. Too much work is another cause of turnover, but that also means more overtime expense. Overtime is not only expensive (time and a half), but it is also a source for wage and hour, equal employment, and retaliation litigation.

Failure to pay overtime is one of the fastest growing employer liabilities in the U.S. today. The more overtime worked, the more risk an employee claims he or she was not paid overtime wages due.

Overtime is an opportunity of employment. The more overtime worked, the more risk of charges of unequal treatment as to the allocation of overtime. For example, if only white male employees receive overtime, then a race and gender discrimination risk exists.

Finally, when employees are asked to do more work, they often raise concerns (or complaints). For example, if Brian refuses to perform overtime because he is too fatigued to work safely, and you terminate Brian for refusing to work, he has a possible retaliation claim for reporting unsafe working conditions.  

Although exposure linked to overtime is legitimate, the primary litigation risk from turnover is turnover itself.

Most employment litigation stems from a termination or constructive discharge, both of which are classified as turnover. It is true that micro-management is not illegal, but trial attorneys do not file lawsuits based on micro-management; instead, they file wrongful termination claims based on discrimination or retaliation and then use micro-management as evidence of the wrongdoing.

For example, Liz is a micro-manager. John hates being micro-managed, quits, and files a wrongful termination claim, alleging that Liz micro-managed him because he is Hispanic, but did not micro-manage non-Hispanic employees.  

Liz could argue she micro-manages everyone, not just John, but that defense, while legally valid, will most likely fail because most jurors, like everyone else, hate micro-managers.

When counseling micro-managers, some will claim ignorance or argue that they are reluctant micro-managers, but that their employer and employees want it.

The turnover numbers associated with micro-management prove employees do not want it, and no employer wants the costs and risks that go with micro-management.

What about you? Micro-managing others is hard work.

So, if you are a micro-manager, give yourself a break. Everyone will thank you for it.

Via:  Hartford Help