Business Productivity: Micromanagement

Know what’ll kill employee engagement deader than a doorknob? Micromanaging.

Even if you start out with an office full of bright, innovative people, looking over their shoulders and correcting them every step of the way will eventually grind them down. Before long, you’ll have a collection of disengaged grumblers who either can’t wait to get out from under your thumb, or who just hunker down and don’t do anything, in hopes that it’ll soon be over.

That’s because when you micromanage someone, you’re practically shouting in their ear: “You’re incompetent! I can’t trust you to do the tiniest thing right!” Now, how would that make you feel?

If you’re a micromanager, you may not realize it; you may just think you’re detail-oriented and want to be sure that your employee does everything exactly right…so you tell them what that is, down to the finest point. That is a mistake. Not only is it detrimental to employee morale, you don’t have time for it. Delegating tasks to other people is the manager’s defining trait. Even if you can wear all the hats in your organization, you shouldn’t. You have to focus on what you’re best at, and hand off everything else to other people and trust them to do it.

Trust is the key word here. You have to assume the employee knows their job, and you can’t watch every little step as they perform it. You’re like the lieutenant who’s told by a colonel to put up a flagpole: you don’t do it yourself, even if you can, and you certainly don’t stand there and direct someone else while they do it. You go to the senior NCO and say, “Sergeant, put up that flagpole!” and the Sergeant gets it done.

That’s what you’re expected to do. That’s what your boss up the line expects, and that’s what the Sergeant expects. Assign someone a task, give them what they need to do it, and then get back to your own work. Touch bases occasionally to see that it’s done, and don’t stand over someone and nitpick while they do it.

It’s up to you, as the manager, to take care of all the big-picture stuff. You can’t do that if you’re focused on one little pixel.



  1. This article is a gem for both business and household managers. As a homemaker/businesswoman, I needed to be told this one more time and the last line really said it all.

    Thanks Laura!


  1. […] perhaps there’s a part of all of us with micromanager tendencies. Do […]