Picture this: You recently joined a new workplace. After your first couple of days, you begin receiving incessant emails for work updates after hours. You arrive at your office only to be grilled on each and every detail of your previous day at work as well as your plans for the upcoming day. Initially, you pass it off as it being because you are new. The only problem is that your coworkers tell you it’ll become a daily affair.

Guess what? You just realized your boss is a micromanager.

Merriam Webster defines micromanagement as an act of managing “with excessive control or attention to details.” And if it sounds like hell, it could be: Studies state most people with micromanagers quit their job within the first two years.

Micromanagement can be stressful and can be a detriment to businesses for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its effect on productivity. But it’s important to identify the root of the problem before seeking out a solution, and that means breaking down the basics.

Micromanagement May Be Caused by a Deep-Rooted Issue

As much as we may like to pin micromanagement as a personality trait, it’s generally motivated by something else. Micromanagers are not born but made. 

Micromanagers tend to exert power and authority for three primary reasons: the first is to maintain authority, and the second is to ensure they don’t tarnish their reputation with higher management as a result of their team’s slip-ups.

But the third and most common reason for bosses to micromanage is fear. The fear of not knowing what’s going on is a huge motivator for exerting unnecessary control. This can result from a lack of visibility, a breakdown in communication or undefined success metrics.

Micromanagement Results in Decreased Productivity

The effects of micromanagement can have a catastrophic impact on more than just workplace morale. One of its biggest effects is on the loss of productivity — and it can be a vicious cycle.

Managers will sometimes exert power thinking they can avoid errors and increase productivity. However, the pressure that employees feel can lead to a lack of innovation and a disengagement with the process. There is no motivation to stretch boundaries. As productivity decreases, a manager may try to exert even more control — which can lead to higher turnover and exacerbate an already strained situation.

The Elements of Great Managing (Gallup Press, 2006) reported that disengaged teams average 82 percent lower productivity and 88 percent lower profitability than engaged teams.

And a survey by Trinity Solutions and published in Harry Chambers’ book My Way or the Highway found that that 79 percent of participants polled had experienced micromanagement. Some 69 percent of respondents said they thought about switching jobs because of micromanagement, while another 36 percent actually followed through with finding a new employer. Eighty-five percent reported that micromanagement affected their morale.

As for productivity? Seventy-one percent of respondents in the survey said that being micromanaged interfered with their job performance.

Micromanagement Can Be Minimized by Establishing Success Parameters

There is a wonderful saying attributed to George S. Patton, a U.S. Army general celebrated for his leadership in France and Germany during the Second World War, that goes: “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”

As a manager and leader, it is important to develop an environment where creativity and innovation thrive. Such an environment can be created by establishing success parameters, result-driven work and clear communication channels rather than scrutiny over details.  The more confidence a manager puts in his employees, the more motivated they are to do their best. Ways to show employees they’re trusted might include providing flexible work hours, establishing remote opportunities or encouraging employees to ask questions and generate ideas.

A study by Gensler, a San Fransisco-based design firm, reported companies that offer choices about when and where to work have higher-performing employees, adding that employees were 4 percent more effective at collaboration. Companies of such employees grow four times faster with one-third less turnover.

What organization doesn’t strive to retain the best and create a culture motivated by purpose and passion? After all, the success of a leader lays in making her employees believe that they can do the work better than they think they can.

Nupur Singh is a social media and growth strategist.