7 Tips for Eliminating Micromanagement

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Are bad managers to blame for low engagement and high turnover, or are they scapegoats for the job-hopping tendencies of younger generations?  

When 60 percent of workers have left, or are considering leaving, because of a boss, it’s easy to see how managers can make or break a company. There are multiple ways to be a bad manager. But there’s one behavior that really takes the cake pop—micromanaging.

Is micromanagement that bad?

For starters, it crushes productivity in the worst possible way—a 2017 Gallup report found that employees who are poorly managed are 50 percent less productive. Micromanaging also undermines your team and their talent, causing 76 percent of employees who don’t feel valued to actively look for new gigs, And how could they feel valued when their manager doesn’t trust them to do their jobs?

Even with all of these reasons not to micromanage, 79 percent of employees surveyed stated they had or were currently being micromanaged. (Trinity Solutions)

Yes, employees want feedback and quite a lot of it. But they don’t need managers to stand over their shoulders—physically or virtually.

The delegation struggle is real, especially for new managers who climbed through the ranks by “doing” rather than “coaching.”

Whether you’re a veteran or newbie, here are some tips to help you break the cycle of micromanaging your team:  

1. Make sure your team has the proper training 
Not having faith in your team’s capabilities is totally understandable when you know they haven’t had the right training. Before stepping back, fill any skill gaps with the necessary goods. With e-learning, employee development can take place anywhere, there are no excuses for not developing the skills to crush their next project.

2. Get feedback on how employees like to receive feedback 
Instead of providing a blanket approach to giving your team feedback, ask each individual how they prefer to receive notes on performance, both good and bad. Use your 1:1s to request their preference, then follow through with their feedback mechanism of choice.

3. Align on clear expectations and boundaries
Ensure everyone is on the same page by sharing the overall vision, clarifying expectations, and setting boundaries—then get out of the way and let your team get going.

4. Focus on outcomes, not how they get there 
In sports, a win is a win, no matter how ugly the last quarter of the game was. As long as no laws or ethics policies have been violated, give your team the freedom to reach the goal on their terms. One obvious step that must be taken for this to work is clearly communicating expectations and goals at or before project kick-off.

5. Give employees the physical and mental space to do their thing 
It’s hard to focus when you feel like the boss is breathing down your neck. If a key deadline is looming, spend some time out of the office or out of sight to avoid added pressure that will weaken—if not kill—the outcome.

6. Work on trust 
We get it, trust is a toughie, especially when you’re the one who has to answer to the higher ups. One way to establish trust with your team is to take a step back on low-impact projects and observe how they step up. Did they meet the deadline? Did they achieve the desired result? Once your team has earned some street cred on smaller projects, it’s time to push them the other way—give them more than you think they can handle. More often than not, they’ll rise to the occasion on stretch assignments.

7. Reframe your thoughts on failure 
When your team makes mistakes, they learn valuable lessons for next time. And, they could even find alternative ways to tackle your toughest business challenges. If you look at failure through the lens of learning, your life will be much smoother as a manager. That doesn’t mean all goals can go unmet, just that missing the mark or veering off course from time to time isn’t the end of the world.

Transitioning from a micromanager to one who can delegate without feeling pain will take a little time. The good news is, modern employees want regular feedback, so you’ll never have to feel completely hands-off.

For some visually stimulating brain candy on how to squash micromanagement, check out our infographic.


Drew Stinger

Drew Stinger

Drew has been immersed in the learning technology space for over six years and has loved every minute of it. From working in global ad agencies (McCann Erickson), and professional sports organizations (go Jazz!), and now in learning technology, Drew has gained valuable insights in the world of managing teams, clients, and peers. Drew loves enabling individuals and teams to have more open, effective conversations centered around connection, alignment and growth and has seen the impact it can have on employee satisfaction and productivity. Skiing, biking, netflix-ing (that’s a word right?), and being a remote working dad, are just a few of his passions!

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