Don’t Be A Micro-manager!

Micro-managers are managers who cannot let go. Once the task has been delegated they hover around, asking probing questions (often repeating themselves needlessly), sending excessive numbers of emails to check on progress or minutiae and generally just getting in the way.

From the other side of the desk does your boss if you feel that you are being harried into doing the work with them hovering on your shoulder the tiny details of your task suddenly become big issues that will not be laid to rest easily.

Either situation is frustrating and non-productive.

Micromanagers take perfectly positive attributes – an attention to detail and a hands-on attitude – to the extreme. Either because they’re control-obsessed, or because they feel driven to push everyone around them to success, micro-managers risk dis-empowering their colleagues. They ruin their colleagues’ confidence, hurt their performance, and frustrate them to the point where they quit.

The trick in these circumstances is to recognise the danger signs and then to do something practical to resolve the issue.

Start by recognising the signs – you may consider that you have all the positive attributes of an involved and supportive manager but you actually are an over-involved and unsupportive manager.

Signs of Micromanagement


  • Resist delegating.
  • Immerse themselves in overseeing the projects of others.
  • Start by correcting tiny details instead of looking at the big picture.
  • Take back delegated work before it is finished if they find a mistake in it.
  • Discourage others from making decisions without consulting them.

What’s Wrong With Micromanaging?

If you are getting results by micromanaging and keeping your nose in everyone’s business, why not carry on?

Micro-managers often affirm the value of their approach with a simple experiment: They give an employee an assignment, and then disappear until the deadline. Is this employee likely to excel when given free rein?

Possibly – if the worker has exceptional confidence in his abilities. Under micromanagement, however, most workers become timid and tentative – possibly even paralyzed. “No matter what I do,” such a worker might think to himself, “It won’t be good enough.” Then one of two things will happen: Either the worker will ask the manager for guidance before the deadline, or he will forge ahead, but come up with an inadequate result.

In either case, the micro-manager will interpret the result of his experiment as proof that, without his constant intervention, his people will flounder or fail.

Escaping Micro-management

Avoid the pitfalls by simply talking to your staff – this direct approach will quickly reveal their feelings on the matter. If this does not unearth the reality then you need to ask yourself why your member of staff is not able to talk to you – perhaps it’s a wider issue with your management style that is creating the difficulty in the first place!

Get them to give you candid and open feedback and then learn to delegate more effectively. This will then give your employees the freedom and encouragement to succeed.

If, on the other hand, it is you that is being micro-managed consider the following pointers to get you out of the situation;

  • Help your boss to delegate to you more effectively by prompting him to give you all the information you will need up front, and to set interim review points along the way.
  • Volunteer to take on work or projects that you’re confident you’ll be good at. This will start to increase his confidence in you – and his delegation skills.
  • Make sure that you communicate progress to your boss regularly, to discourage him from seeking information just because he hasn’t had any for a while.
  • Concentrate on helping your boss to change one micro-management habit at a time. Remember that he’s only human too, and is allowed to make mistakes!

Micromanagement restricts the ability of micro-managed staff members to develop and grow. It also limits what the team can achieve as everything has to go through him or her.

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