Friday, December 1, 2023

Micromanagement: A Counter-Productive Management Style

What is micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a management style where a manager closely observes, supervises and /or controls the work of their employees. People who micromanage immerse themselves in the work of others. This means that a micromanager often avoids delegating responsibilities to employees so the manager becomes the sole decision-maker (Coursera, n.d.).

Micromanagement is generally considered to have a negative connotation, suggesting a lack of freedom and trust in the workplace, and excessive focus on details at the expense of the "big picture" and larger goals (Wikipedia contributors, 2023).

Why do people micromanage?

People may micromanage for a variety of reasons, but it is often due to a fear of things not being done correctly and, thus a need to maintain close control. This could be due to unskilled employees, a lack of leadership ability, mistrust of others, low self-esteem, or a strong need to dominate and control (Wikipedia contributors, 2023).

According to the Harvard Business Review, it boils down to two reasons. The manager desires to feel connected to the lower levels of the organization. Losing touch with employees at the ground level is common as a person moves to more senior positions. This can have a detrimental effect if a manager does not understand the needs, motivations, and roles of those they manage. Staying close can be an attempt to counterbalance this and also reduce the feeling of isolation that moving up the ranks away from previous peers brings. Managers who move into more senior roles experience a shift in duties, which must move away from operations and become more strategic. This can be a difficult transition for some who, as a result, find it difficult to let go of their previous role and become too involved as it is an area of comfort for them. Coming from a position you used to do and were promoted from for doing well means it’s hard to accept someone else doing it and possibly not doing it 'your' way (Ruch, 2022).

Micromanagement vs. accountability

Sometimes there's confusion between ensuring that employees are accountable and micromanaging. They are not convergent because you cannot hold someone responsible by managing them so closely that they have no responsibility. To be held accountable, you need to take responsibility for your actions.

Micromanagement is managing a team extremely closely, engaging in excessive monitoring of staff, and attempting to control processes and workflow without allowing autonomy or a say in decisions. Micromanagement usually comes with good intentions, but monitoring employees so closely can damage motivation, workflow, and productivity (Coursera, n.d.).

Accountability is ensuring that employees are clear about their roles, expectations, and goals, and that they have the resources and support to achieve them. Accountability also involves providing feedback, recognition, and coaching to help employees grow and improve. Accountability empowers employees to make decisions, take ownership of their work, and learn from their mistakes (Indeed Editorial Team, 2021).

How to deal with micromanagement?

If you are a micromanager, you may want to consider the following tips to change your behavior and improve your relationship with your employees:

- Recognize the signs and costs of micromanagement. Ask yourself if you are constantly checking on your employees, giving them detailed instructions, or taking over their tasks. Think about how this affects their morale, performance, and creativity (Doyle, 2021).
- Trust your employees and delegate effectively. Hire competent people and give them the authority and autonomy to do their jobs. Provide clear expectations and goals, but avoid dictating every step of the process. Let them use their skills and judgment to solve problems and make decisions (Doyle, 2021).
- Focus on the big picture and the long-term vision. Instead of getting bogged down by the details, think about the overall objectives and outcomes of your team and organization. Align your actions and priorities with the strategic direction and communicate it to your employees (Doyle, 2021).
- Seek feedback and coaching. Ask your employees, peers, and superiors for honest and constructive feedback on your management style. Listen to their suggestions and opinions, and be open to change. You may also benefit from working with a mentor or a coach who can help you develop your leadership skills and overcome your challenges (Doyle, 2021).

If you are a micromanaged employee, you may want to consider the following tips to cope with the situation and improve your work environment:

- Understand the reasons and motivations behind micromanagement. Try to empathize with your manager and see things from their perspective. Maybe they are under pressure, insecure, or inexperienced. Maybe they have high standards, care about quality, or want to help you succeed (Wang, 2021).
- Communicate and build trust with your manager. Establish regular and frequent communication with your manager and keep them updated on your progress, challenges, and achievements. Anticipate their questions and concerns, and provide them with the information and reassurance they need. Show them that you are reliable, competent, and responsible (Wang, 2021).
- Negotiate and set boundaries with your manager. Discuss with your manager your preferred work style, expectations, and goals. Ask them for feedback, guidance, and support, but also for autonomy and flexibility. Agree on the level of involvement and supervision that works for both of you (Wang, 2021).
- Seek help and support from others. Talk to your colleagues, peers, or superiors who may have experienced or witnessed micromanagement. Seek their advice, insights, and solutions. You may also consider talking to a human resources professional or a counselor who can help you deal with the stress and frustration of micromanagement (Wang, 2021).


Micromanagement is a management style that can have negative effects on both managers and employees. It can reduce motivation, productivity, and creativity, and increase stress, turnover, and conflict. To avoid or overcome micromanagement, managers and employees need to communicate, trust, and respect each other, and focus on the common goals and vision of the organization.


Coursera. (n.d.). Micromanagement: What it is and how to deal with it.

Doyle, A. (2021, October 20). How to stop micromanaging your team. The Balance Careers.

Indeed Editorial Team. (2021, October 25). Accountability vs. micromanagement: What's the difference? Indeed Career Guide.

Ruch, W. (2022, September 9). How to stop micromanaging and start empowering. Harvard Business Review.

Wang, L. (2021, September 28). How to deal with a micromanager. The Muse.

Wikipedia contributors. (2023, November 29). Micromanagement. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

No comments:

Post a Comment