Monster Poll: Micromanagement is the Biggest Workplace ‘Red Flag’

Colleagues deal with passive aggression in the workplace.

In the workplace, “red flag” actions or behaviors create negative or anxious feelings for employees. Nearly three-quarters of workers consider micromanagement the biggest workplace red flag, according to a new Monster poll.  

“Micromanagement is awful,” says Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO at HR consulting firm Reverb. “It’s annoying and disempowering at the same time.” 

Creating mechanisms to delegate and track work can help higher-ups avoid micromanaging, Kiner says. If you’re assigning projects without a standard way to follow their progress, it’s going to lead you to lean over your workers’ shoulders. 

“Micromanagement comes from disorganization,” she says. “Building those skills for managers — to delegate but also check in and monitor progress in an appropriate way — can really decrease micromanagement.”

Other Red Flags in the Workplace

Although 73% of workers consider micromanagement the biggest transgression, 72% named favoritism from a manager as a red flag. 

“We’re human — you like some people, you don’t like some people,” says Laura MacLeod, an HR expert and consultant with From the Inside Out Project, an employee-morale company. “But as a manager, it’s got to be fair.” 

One suggestion: use objective checklists to make workforce decisions. Who’s available, who has the skills, who needs a new project and who needs the stretch skills? “Just slow down and have some kind of objective criteria — like you would if you were assigning a rating or a promotion,” Kiner says. 

Other sticking points for workers include the following:

  • Meetings that could have been an email (59%)
  • Non-flexible 9-to-5 working hours (51%)
  • Weekly progress or “status” meetings (31%)
  • Team bonding exercises (29%)
  • Team happy hours or out-of-office events (27%)

In terms of team bonding and other events, experts recommend giving people opportunities but not forcing the issue. “I was talking to an employer last week who said, ‘We’re making our Christmas party mandatory,’” says Jill Sanpietro, a human resources consultant at 21Oak HR Consulting. “I said, ‘Don’t do that, it’s so weird.’ Encourage it, set aside funds for things people can do outside of work, but don’t make them.” 

Pain Points in the Application Process

About two-thirds of workers consider jobs that require more than three rounds of interviews the biggest red flag in the interview process. 

“I should be able to pick up within 30 seconds, literally, whether you’re even in the running,” MacLeod says. “If you’re not in the running, I can wrap it up after that first interview. If you’re in the running, then I want you to talk to your direct supervisor. But you don’t have to talk to the CEO.” 

Another 53% say a mandatory assignment during the interview process would prevent them from applying. “It’s unfair to ask people to do unpaid work,” Kiner says. “Can that person submit existing work, or can you compensate them for their time?” 

Four in 10 job hunters say an undisclosed salary range in a job description would prevent them from even applying. This keeps workers from getting too far down the job interview road before realizing the salary is too low for them. 

“Money is money,” MacLeod says. “I don’t have the time and energy for this if it’s way below what I’m expecting.” 

Worker Culture Concerns

Monster’s poll also identified “beige flags” — practices that workers feel neutral about, but that still gives them pause. A third of workers feel that over-participation in office group chats is the most significant workplace beige flag. Another 1 in 5 feels that using NSFW language at work is a beige flag, while 11% consider making excessive reference to children or weekend plans the most notable beige flag. 

The biggest green flag? More than half (51%) of workers say flexible remote work policies are a green flag, or positive offering in the workplace. Also on the list: “Summer Fridays” (17%).

“Now that flexibility has been introduced to people, that’s something that’s very hard to peel back,” Kiner says. “Employers who could enable and allow flexibility but are choosing not to — I think they’re missing out, and in the long term, people are going to continue looking for those benefits.” 

Craft Your Workplace Culture

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