How strict are the managers in your organisation? Managers who control employee performance too closely may end up driving down aspects of employee performance, according to new research by Spanish and British academics.
Most organisations have management controls in place – processes and procedures for setting goals, monitoring employee progress and providing performance feedback. However, the new data shows that overly restrictive management backfires and leads to greater levels of so-called workplace deviance – eg absenteeism, long breaks, effort reduction and even theft.
Controls perceived as too stringent may end up pushing employees to behave in subversive ways
See no evil
Researchers led by Ernesto Lopez-Valeiras at the University of Vigo found that employees who perceived management controls as excessive and overly restrictive engaged in a greater level of workplace deviance. They also practised ‘deliberate ignorance’ – turning a blind eye to illicit behaviour and wrongdoing by others.
This research is consistent with prior studies showing that most employees value having autonomy in their work. Overall, management controls enhance organisational performance only as long as employees believe that the controls guide, coach and help them to achieve goals. Controls that are perceived as too stringent may end up pushing employees to behave in subversive ways as an act of rebellion.