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Stop micro-management. This is why and how.

A micro-manager is closely observing and controlling the work of his or her team members. Rather than limiting him/herself to giving specific instructions for certain tasks and focusing on the broader picture, (what macro-managers do), the micro-manager interferes intensively (obsessively) with every part and all the details of a business process. Micro-managers have great difficulty with delegating and letting go.

Everything goes through them. No decisions are made without their presence and they want to know exactly what everyone is doing. Actually, they make all the decisions themselves.

There is only one way to do the work: their way, and so everybody has to work that way.

Their plans are detailed and set in stone. And the only option for the colleagues is to accept and execute. Micro-managers don’t care what their co-workers think.

In addition, they give their colleagues (too) little time to get the job done. That is because they secretly have believe that they could do it both better and faster.

A micro-manager will watch the employee’s actions closely and provide rapid criticism.

They always have themselves as their primary emphasis and focus. “It’s all about me”. And, behind their backs, they are called "control freaks".

This management style is caused by a couple of reasons.

  • Lack of confidence in their colleagues and often too little confidence in themselves. (If they had confidence in their own leadership, they would be able to create a team they can trust).

  • Little or no vision, resulting in no overview and so a lot of control over operational matters only.

  • Underestimation of the skills of their colleagues.

  • They may have an overly authoritarian style.

  • Sometimes micro-management is also the (unintended) result of good intentions aimed at strengthening the team spirit and cohesion within an organization.

Although micro-managers may have the best intentions, they will drive many of their colleagues nuts.


One of the manager's duties is to ensure that the work is performed effectively and efficiently. This will not happen by doing micro-management.

Research shows that the productivity of employees who work under a micro-manager is significantly lower. These employees are far from using their full thinking ability because the manager is constantly directing them.

Other issues include:

  • if employees do not gain confidence, motivation drops and new initiatives stop.

  • employees no longer enjoy going to work.

  • performances are only mediocre, top performances are no longer there.

  • employees feel paralyzed.

  • employees get the self-image that they are not good enough anyway,

  • making mistakes is a form of learning. As an employee, you hardly get a chance for this with micromanagement.

  • job satisfaction is down the drain.

But it is also bad for the micro-manager him/herself. When a manager claims all duties and responsibilities, he or she eventually becomes indispensable. Is the manager forced to leave the organization, then it is difficult for the team and the organization to get things going again.

Because a micro-manager pulls everything towards him/herself, the chance of excessive work pressure, chronic stress, overload and burnout grows.

Micro-management increases the risk that the focus will shift to small, largely irrelevant details within business processes. As a result, the manager loses sight of the higher project objectives and broader strategic targets at the organizational level.

Micro-managers can seriously delay the completion of certain tasks. This comes at the expense of overall productivity.

The micro-manager will stagnate in his / her career. The promotion opportunities pass by.


  1. Find out if you are a micro-manager yourself. Become aware of some the following symptoms: avoid delegation, control obsession, dictate what to do, too many reports (by yourself and those you require from direct reports), focus on details, always being involved in all decisions.

  2. You don't have to know everything. Your value is not that you need to know all about everything.

  3. Let people do the work their way. Work can often be carried out in different ways. If someone can determine this for himself, you will see that they demonstrate more ownership.

  4. Give people enough time to get the job done and don't take over. Give them the opportunity to learn from their experiences, even if it sometimes takes a little longer.

  5. Give space: Do not continuously sit on top of it. Let people work and do not be in the picture at every intermediate step in a project or job.

  6. Provide information purposefully: Provide only the information necessary to get the job done and get the results. Let it go further and you will see that employees will find the right information themselves.

Apply facilitating leadership by

  1. Designating one complete task and give full responsibility for the execution and result. Give your direct reports the autonomy they deserve. Let them take the credits.

  2. Switch to weekly reporting on progress, plans and problems.

  3. Focus from long-term objectives. Publishing your objectives and key results is a step towards the right direction.

  4. Assign tasks based on your employees' strong skills and competences.

  5. Focus on employee's projects and KPIs, not expected tasks.


  1. Do not take your manager's behavior personally. It's most probably not that you're no good at your job.

  2. Try to understand why your boss is a micro-manager. And what exactly s/he is micro-managing?

  3. Don't give the micro-manager any reason to get involved with you: so make sure you do your work as good as possible and finish it on time. Take responsibility and deliver quality.

  4. Send proactive updates to your manager. This shows that you think along with him/her.

  5. Talk to your manager about his or her behaviour. Explain what is bothering you. Ask to get full responsibility for the next project. Agree on objectives and expectations. Make sure you have all the information before you start. You send him/her a weekly update on the state of affairs. And if necessary you ask for advice. As a result, confidence will grow and you will reduce your manager’s workload.

THE GOLDEN NUGGET: In general, avoid micro management, but in some occasions it is useful, like: giving directions to individuals new to their role or unexperienced teams; step by step guidance when processes are complex, solving interpersonal conflicts of strong personalities or remote management.

Try it. It will make you a happier and more successful business professional.

If you would like to get more information on micro-management or would like to be coached on this, please contact me. I can help you.

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