Is micromanaging bullying?

Is micromanaging bullying?

Definition of micromanagement

Micromanagement occurs when managers unnecessarily interfere with, involve themselves in and overly interact with you and your work on a regular basis. It is often unwanted and uncalled for attention that begins to subtract value from the performance of not only yourself but also fellow colleagues. It can include behaviour such as:

  1. constantly requesting reports or updates;
  2. requesting to review all work produced by you;
  3. reviewing all correspondence involving you;
  4. asking people including other staff and clients/customers to provide a review of your performance;
  5. constantly asking you what you’re working on and to prove you’re busy; and
  6. focusing only on aspects of your work on which you need to improve, despite you performing well in every other area.

Bullying according to the law

Section 789(1) of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) states that a worker is bullied if:

  • and individual or group of individuals ‘repeatedly behaves unreasonably towards the worker’; and
  • (b) ‘that behaviour creates a risk to health and safety’.

Section 789FD(2) provides that ‘reasonable management’ carried out in a ‘reasonable manner’ does not constitute bullying.

When micromanagement constitutes bullying

In A.N. [2014] FWC 6285 (31 October 2014) the Fair Work Commission held that bullying can be evidenced by micromanagement if it is coupled with an intention to bully. In this case the Commission considered that if a manager, motivated by the desire to terminate a worker’s employment, micromanages that worker, such conduct may amount to bullying.

In A.B. [2015] FWC 3353 (4 June 2015) the Fair Work Commission held that management must be carried out in a ‘reasonable manner’.  Whether action taken by a manager is carried out in a reasonable manner may depend on:

  • the nature of the action;
  • the facts and circumstances giving rise to the requirement for action; and
  • the way in which the action impacts upon the worker.

It should be noted that in this case the Commission stated that an increase in performance management and/or review will not necessarily constitute bullying especially if that change is necessary for the organisation to survive financially.

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