Alison Haire




How micromanagement & low-trust environments are detrimental to productivity, project outcomes & your business [WIP]

Alison Haire's photo
Alison Haire
·Sep 24, 2022·

4 min read

The Effects of micromanagement & low-trust environments on productivity, project outcomes & your business


  • Low-trust environments (at best) slow down productivity and outcomes
  • Low-trust environments lead to stagnation, lack of original ideas and abandonment of innovation
  • Low-trust environments produce lower levels of outcomes and lower quality of work
  • Low-trust environments cause bottlenecks and blockers in achieving outcomes because even small decisions must be reviewed
  • Low-trust environments are marked by an overabundance of checkin’s and meetings for no real purpose, breaking workflow and slowing down outcomes
  • Low-trust environments are marked by fear and a lack of openness to feedback or different viewpoints, leading to a lack of collaboration, innovation or new ideas. Innovation requires an experimental attitude that embraces “mistakes” as a path to learning what works. In low-trust environments, making a mistake is fatal.
  • Low-trust environments are run by mandate rather than consensus leading to resentment in employees
  • Low-trust environments create cynical, disengaged employees
  • Low-trust environments lead to higher levels of stress, and increased employee turnover.
  • Low-trust environments cost a business in both time, innovation and money.

I want to start out by saying I've worked for both great leaders, and appalling managers. And I use the two different terms, because a leader is a person who creates a high functioning, happy, healthy and innovative team and psychologically safe team environment that embraces differences and leverages them for constructive outcomes. A manager on the other hand, simply looks at day to day operational functions. They aren't inherently good or bad at their roles, but whether they are simply task managers or micromanagers creating unhealthy outcomes, they are never leaders. Leaders inspire, managers simply organise.

Why Trust Matters

The role of trust in the workplace is essential. As Hungerford puts it - “Trust is an essential condition of human society, unifying families, communities, groups and countries.”

The ILM defines trust in six dimensions:

  • Ability
  • Understanding
  • Fairness
  • Openness
  • Integrity
  • Consistency

Rosenfeld likened leadership trust to the kind of trust that develops in families... “Their deeds have to match their words, because everyone is going to be watching,”.

What are these?

How are low-trust environments characterised?

  • Low-trust environments are characterised by a const focus on the details, the "how" rather than on achieving outcomes
  • Low-trust environments are characterised by one person bottlenecks & blockers
  • Low-trust environments require constant review requirements leading to a break of workflow and slowing down of outcomes
  • Low-trust environments are characterised by constant check in, communication and reporting requirements taking away the ability of the team to be innovative or to achieve tasks in a timely manner.
  • Low-trust environments may engender a lack of support or praise for work
  • Low-trust environments create and inability to give feedback, handle opposing opinions or to raise concerns and provide little or no support and a culture of fear.

What are their effects? On your business outcomes On your employees

How do you improve these? -as a leader Leadership training Bias training Regular feedback processes A genuine commitment to constructive action on feedback and concerns People managers being distinct from up-line management Career coaching & support for those levelling up to new positions

-as an individual

How do you rectify issues? -as a leader -as an individual

What processes should be in place for concerns?

How do you rebuild trust in the workplace? Most research agrees on the fundamentals of rebuilding trust in the workplace

  • Acknowledgement of what caused broken trust
  • Permission and allowance for feelings and emotions to be discussed.
  • Support processes
  • Commitment to change and involvement in the process

Research articles 'High Trust’ and ‘Low Trust’ Workplace Settings: Implications for Our Mental Health and Wellbeing

Characterising low & high trust environments

Warning signs that your org is low-trust

Broken Trust is Bad for Business

"When employees do not trust managers and leaders, various forms of organizational fallout are likely, including low engagement, high turnover and reduced innovation" - Hastings (Broken Trust is Bad for Business).

Recognition in the workplace: Its Not What You Think It Is

Did you find this article valuable?

Support Alison Haire by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!

Learn more about Hashnode Sponsors
Share this