Micromanagement is a word that many people consider a synonym for rigid hierarchies and old management styles. It is something that can cause problems within teams and is usually a sign of other underlying issues.

Let’s break that down for you!

What is micromanagement?

This is a term commonly used when a manager has to control, oversee and approve every aspect of the workplace or team performance. Every task needs approval, delegating is often a mission impossible and moreover, there’s no autonomy in the team.

Why does micromanagement occur?

One of the most common reasons for this is due to the Manager’s distrust or lack of confidence in the team member’s ability to get the job done correctly and to the quality or speed level that is required.

The cause of the distrust or lack of confidence could be because –

– The team member is new and could need more guidance,
– The Manager knows the task ahead is challenging and is one where there can be zero margin for error due to the consequences of getting it wrong,
– The team member has made the same mistakes before,
– The team member is underperforming or causing trouble in some area,
– The team member is actually amazing and doesn’t need micro management.However the Manager has had the wrong people in the same position previously and now does not trust anyone.
– The Manager was either micromanaged themselves or feels that is the only way, or they are justifying their position by appearing to be busy.

Micromanagement at the wrong time and with productive people can cause you to lower the productivity of your team members, lower their confidence in themselves and eventually even cause your best people to leave.

Let’s look at each of the above and some tips to help you as the Manager, and see when you may need to micromanage and when not to.

1) Team member is new and could need more guidance

You’ve hired a new person to cover a gap, to solve a problem, to facilitate your growth. If you’re hired well, then you know this person has all the right intentions.

If you haven’t hired a productive person, then the first question is, why, and do you have plans to improve in this area so you hire more of the right people the first time? (Our Performance Hiring training is the answer)

Once you’ve hired a productive candidate, how you ONBOARD them is crucial. Many companies are missing a strong onboarding system and when this is not in place, you end up spending a lot more unnecessary time and also end up feeling you have to micromanage.

In your onboarding process you should include key company policies, company core values, expectations, timelines and the speed at which things are required.

The owner or HR Manager should be checking that the team member is getting through their onboarding timely and fully, and not accepting anything less than 100%.

Quality Control is something that is important for maintaining the quality and reputation of a business. The team member’s Manager or dedicated quality control dept should ensure the new team member is following the processes and correcting their work, ensuring they know the source of errors and providing them training for future. Making the same mistake twice is usually due to poor duplication, ineffective training or an unwilling attitude.

After the training stage your team should be ready to work, interact and produce.

Building confidence and getting things done without help or supervision is the beginning of the second phase. Acknowledging, feedback and autonomy is vital to encourage the new team member to continue their process and build confidence. However, some managers find it really hard to delegate and trust the new person to make mistakes and improve.

Checking what your team is working on constantly, having daily meetings, being ‘nit-picky’ about non important things, criticizing instead of providing feedback certainly can be the cause of a poor relationship, stress, demotivation, lack of confidence and ultimately decreased productivity.

No matter the size of your business or team, if you or one of your executives tend to micromanage excessively the team can be experiencing frustration, stress, demotivation, the sensation of not being able to do anything right.

How bad could this be?

It will start with a bad workplace environment, low productivity, retention rates can decrease, and last but not least it could affect your turnover and even affect your reputation.

2) Zero margin for error!

If your team member is working on a challenging task or one where the damage could be too high if there is any error, the Manager can set up a process for collaboration. When you give the task to your team member, it is important to be clear about the expected result in terms of completion, the finished look, the deadline and any other important requirements.

If the task is complex in nature, ask your team member about their plan, ideas, and how they plan to tackle the task. If you find they have not considered some aspect, talk to them about it but let them take the initiative to solve it. Of course if there is any immediate danger, it should be handled immediately and followed with training for the team member. Doing so will enable and empower your team and help them feel more capable and confident to handle the next challenging task.

Taking challenges away or always placing soft padding around your team and never allowing them to experience discomfort will slow down their progress and growth.

Tough love is sometimes the best support you can give your team. The biggest task for a Manager is to create just the right level of challenge for their team members.

Sometimes micromanagement also occurs because Management does not know what to check or how to measure results, and they have to rely on themselves looking at every aspect of a person’s work.


It can be frustrating when team members underperform or make the same mistake twice even after all the time you spent with them.

The above usually boils down to a few factors;
Wrong person/wrong hire – lack of care, willingness or just poor production.
Ineffective onboarding and training,
Management style is not teaching accountability and thus getting disrespected.

The best way to know if a team member is performing or not, is to manage by performance and by statistics, looking for yourself, and not making assumptions. You could have a quiet team member who is very productive and does not promote themselves to you, so if you do not rely on checking performance, you may start thinking that person is not so valuable, and this would be your BIGGEST mistake.

Of course if you have a team member who is underperforming and despite your efforts they are not improving, you will need to manage them by performance even more and possibly as a way to help them exit. When dealing with wrong-hires and any toxic hires, you will need to tightly control the performance management.


Sometimes, Managers have had poor experiences with previous hires not performing so now they apply the same ‘feelings’ to the new hires. The issue is that sometimes they are applying this feeling to people who are absolute superstars, and now this treatment will actually cause the team members to feel like they are not trusted or feel they are not performing even though they are.

Our tip for you

Everything starts by finding the right people to work with. Our recommendation is that you get VERY GOOD at hiring.

This is the most crucial skill every manager needs to have. When you know how to hire a productive person, you will create so much more mental bandwidth for yourself.

And when you understand the personality of your candidate, you get a much better understanding of them, how they operate and how to best manage them.

Managing by performance and statistics will help you see where you need to place your attention.

If you build your team with performers, you will find yourself working with them collaboratively instead of closely managing every move.

When onboarding, provide training as needed, then trust in your team’s abilities, acknowledge them, provide feedback and make work days a challenge that all enjoy!

We hope you find the perfect dose of management that you and your team needs!

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