Help me stop micro-managing!

A close friend of mine recently became a senior manager. After telling me a few stories, he looked at me with a horror stricken face and said – “Am I a micro-manager? I promised my team I wouldn’t do that! How do you be a loved boss and a good boss at the same time?”

Well first things first, let’s look at what micro management means and what it might look like in real practice. Not sure if you are a micromanager or not? Try a quiz online here.


What is micro-managing?

to manage especially with excessive control or attention to detailsmi·cro·man·age verb \ˌmī-krō-ˈma-nij\
transitive verb

intransitive verb

to direct or conduct the activities of a group or an enterprise by micromanaging them

A culture of micro-management in an organization is usually characterized by lack of engagement, stifled creativity, low employee autonomy, a reactive “fire-fighting” culture, and in all likelihood stressed-out managers!

Micro-management has financial effects too, including:

  • increased turnover (and subsequent re-hire costs)
  • reduced customer satisfaction
  • reduced employee engagement and productivity

Employees usually describe instances of micro management as the leader:

  1. adding periods, commas, and colons obsessively on a brilliant strategic document, without any constructive feedback on the content,
  2. checking in compulsively every day on a project that takes months to complete, or even worse,
  3. taking over a document, re-doing it completely without taking any input from the employee and then submitting it to senior management.

Now despite having all the best intentions of not being a micromanager, how does it happen?

Reasons for micromanaging

  1. Lack of time: Quick deadlines, less time to review documents and materials means that sometimes the manager has little choice to provide coaching and feedback, and ends up re-doing the
  2. Need for control: Sometimes previous experience has led managers to be hyper-sensitive to back feedback from senior leaders, and the only way to control it is, doing it themselves.
  3. Lack of confidence in staff: Sometimes previous poor performance from staff, or absorbing a new team or new employee can lead to micromanagement. In the case of the latter, micro-management might be a good thing.

Strategies to Tackle the Micro-Managing Monster!

  1. Give clear direction and state your expectations. At the onset of a task, assignment, or project, be clear about the objective, and how you envision the end product. Now is the time to re-iterate previous feedback and come up with an approach for the project together.
  2. Take Time. Make sure that you have adequate time to coach and provide feedback and involve an employee in revisions and changes – when you are rushed you might be tempted to take it on yourself just to get it done the way you want it on time.

Are you a self-professed micro-manager? Have a great story about a micro-manager? Share it with us! Give us a shout via Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper or email us at

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