MICROMANAGEMENT: Definition, Signs, and How To Deal With It


Managers are key team members who lead in a variety of ways. When they become overly interested in their team members’ work, they may micromanage rather than provide guidance.
In this post, we will discuss what micromanagement is, why individuals micromanage, the signs, and how to deal with a micromanager at work.

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a management style that entails frequent and thorough evaluation of work and performance. It is the act of over-supervising or regulating every detail of a person’s work. When an individual manages every minute element of a task to the point where it hinders its completion, this is referred to as micromanagement. It usually entails setting strict deadlines, extensively scrutinizing work, and defining every detail of how assignments should be completed.

A micromanager often has a high level of participation in all elements of their subordinates’ work. It can be an effective approach to motivate and rally a single squad for a limited time. But, if used over an extended period, it might have disastrous repercussions. Micromanagement has various negative consequences. It can have a detrimental effect on staff morale and the quality of their work.

Employee ownership levels are the most vulnerable to micromanagement. These impacts are far too numerous and severe to be disregarded. As a result, managers should avoid micromanaging their teams at all costs. But before we get into the repercussions of micromanagement, we should first understand what drives managers to micromanagement. Let’s go on to the next section.

Examples and Signs of Micromanagement

If you are accustomed to it, the behavior of a micromanager may be difficult to detect. But, there are various signs that you are dealing with micromanagement. Examples of micromanagement include:

  • Lack of delegation: the manager handles all critical business alone.
  • Extensive documentation: Staff is regularly seen providing updates and producing reports.
  • Pedantic behavior: The management obsesses over every minor detail.
  • Heavy involvement: A micromanager will be CC’ed on every email and present at every meeting.
  • Makes choices on their own: They rarely seek or consider employee input.

What Motivates Managers Toward Micromanagement?

#1. Fear of committing errors

Managers frequently resort to micromanagement because they are afraid of their team making mistakes. They frequently use it to avoid potential risks or negative outcomes. Managers believe that if they do not oversee everything, their employees will not produce the desired results, resulting in chaos. They are concerned that if they do not closely monitor what their employees are doing, they may make serious and costly mistakes that will jeopardize both the employees and their jobs.

#2. Team members are not trusted enough

A lack of trust in team members is frequently the cause of micromanagement. The manager’s appraisal of the team’s skill set in comparison to their degree of skill set frequently starts the mistrust. Managers may believe that they must continually monitor and supervise team members to ensure that they work efficiently and meet the standards of the organization. They may need to double-check the work of team members to verify that everything is functioning smoothly and following their directions.

#3. Team members’ unrealistic expectations

Supervisors that practice micromanagement frequently have unrealistic expectations of their team members. Managers are frequently bogged down by their expectations, which leads to micromanagement. They frequently overestimate the abilities and skills of their team members and feel angry when things don’t go as planned. It frequently results in over-control, unrealistic expectations, and a great deal of stress for the team members.

#4. Fear of the unknown

Fear of the unknown is another major reason why managers resort to micromanagement. Managers may believe that if they do not have complete control over every aspect, something will go wrong and they will be held accountable. This unfavorable perception of the unknown is sometimes ascribed to a lack of faith in employees’ talents. This fear may also arise as a result of continuous changes in the business sector, which may cause managers to become more concerned about any unknown problem or issue.

#5. Conflict aversion

To mask their anxieties and vulnerabilities, managers who are terrified of conflict frequently turn to micromanagement. When a manager anticipates a disagreement, they frequently try to avoid it by pushing their will on the team or attempting to micromanage every aspect. It frequently causes stress and anger among team members because they are not allowed to express themselves freely.

#6. Obsession with power

Supervisors who are obsessed with power tend to be hypercritical and continuously watch their employees. They frequently assume that they know best and that their employees must be guided and constantly supervised to obtain the required results. Managers who feel this way frequently resort to micromanagement to exercise their power and feel as if they are making a difference.

Why Should Managers Avoid Micromanagement?

In recent years, micromanagement has become a popular management strategy. It comes naturally to some managers owing to their personalities. And others have deliberately built it owing to the nature of the businesses in which they work. It entails unnecessarily managing and monitoring personnel to the point where work becomes highly boring and frustrating. Even when started with noble intentions, it might have disastrous consequences. A toxic culture can be fatal to your business. There are various reasons why being a micromanager is a terrible idea:

#1. Low levels of team ownership

If you’re a manager, you undoubtedly want your staff to be productive and achieve all of the objectives you’ve set for them. The level of ownership that a team takes is one of the keys to its success. According to research, when teams are subject to micromanagement, they perform below their potential because they are unable to take ownership of their work and develop solutions on their own. When managers micromanage their staff, they deprive the team of the ability to make the decisions required to complete their work. Low productivity and even frustration can result from this lack of autonomy and ownership.

#2. Increasing absenteeism as a result of increased stress and low well-being

Too much micromanagement can lead to increased stress and low well-being, which can hamper productivity. High-stress workers are more likely to miss work, according to research. Employees who feel always under control and pressure from their supervisors are less likely to be always present at work, according to research. They are also more prone to encounter work-related stress and disagreements with management, resulting in decreased productivity and job unhappiness or a complete loss of commitment to the business. They may also experience more worry over time, which is detrimental to everyone involved because it reduces employee well-being.

#3. Poor team creativity and innovation

Managers that micromanage their employees limit their creative freedom. Micromanagement inhibits team innovation. It encourages people to stick to the established routines and processes rather than explore new possibilities. Managers that intervene too frequently in the creative process diminish the quality of the work result, restrict the flow of new ideas, and limit innovation. This results in poor work that is devoid of imagination and innovation.

#4. Poor team morale and engagement

Micromanagement frequently has the opposite effect anticipated by managers. Instead of motivating and engaging their team members, it causes them to resent the interference and feel pushed around. Managers feel upset when they try to micromanage every area of their team’s work, and it becomes difficult for team members to provide their best work. Because they are distracted by the increased stress and work obstacles, these difficulties prevent them from being fully involved in their work.

How Can Managers Prevent Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is a prevalent workplace issue that can affect team morale, productivity, and innovation. To avoid it:

#1. Concentrate on the outcome rather than the input.

Managers frequently focus on the input rather than the output. It might result in a never-ending loop of micromanagement in which supervisors constantly monitor and assess their employees’ every action to ensure they fulfill their targets. The idea is to focus on the result and delegate the essential processes to the personnel. You will be able to prevent unneeded interruptions and save a lot of time and energy this way.

#2. Try Accepting Failure Sometimes. Only intervene when something goes wrong.

Many managers find it difficult to relinquish power. They believe that if they are not always on top of everything, the team members would not be able to deliver as expected. Needless to say, this results in a great deal of micromanagement. Instead of constantly watching everything, consider intervening only when anything goes wrong. Instead of overreacting and going crazy, you will be able to appraise the issue and take suitable measures. You will be able to prevent unneeded tension and manage your team more successfully if you follow this strategy gradually and gradually get more comfortable with failure.

#3. Learn how to delegate effectively.

Managers can avoid micromanagement by understanding how to delegate successfully. Delegation is a powerful tool that allows managers to assign responsibility, duties, and authority while still properly monitoring the performance of their staff. It encourages employees to take on more responsibility, which increases productivity and creates a better work atmosphere overall. By delegating properly, managers may free up their time to focus on more strategic activities while still ensuring that their employees accomplish the allocated task goals.

#4. Establish explicit production expectations and targets.

Managers frequently over-administer, which can make employees feel micromanaged. Instead, they should establish clear objectives and goals and then delegate the details to the workers. Establishing clear output expectations and goals for your employees can assist them to realize what is necessary. It will also assist you in tracking the workflow’s progress. That will help them produce better results and enhance morale. Furthermore, knowing that their efforts are paying off will offer you a sense of satisfaction.

#5. Develop the team’s ability to make decisions.

The more adept your staff is at making independent decisions, the less you will need to micromanage them. They will be better equipped to create answers to difficulties on their own if you distribute authority and allow them to operate freely. Furthermore, this will foster trust and respect among team members, promoting collaboration and communication. Provide your team with the necessary tools and training to effectively instill decision-making capability. It would be preferable if you also allowed them to explore new things.

#6. Determine the team’s skill gaps and prioritize improvement.

A better strategy to manage teams is to identify the group’s skill gaps and then focus on improvement. Managers can assist team members in developing the skills required for their roles once the skill gap has been identified. Managers can also provide assistance and direction as needed, helping team members to become self-sufficient. This will give you more trust in your team’s talents and allow you to be more comfortable letting things go. This technique will help managers reduce their effort and lead to a more efficient team.

How to Deal with a Micromanagement

If you believe you are being micromanaged at work, consider this approach:

#1. Build trust.

Before you confront your manager about their micromanaging, examine your work ethic. Consider whether there are any reasons why your management feels the need to monitor your every step. Assess whether you’ve been arriving late to work, routinely missing deadlines, or failing to correct mistakes. Create a list of potential infractions and pledge to fix any poor behavior on your part.

#2. Plan and take appropriate action.

Take action before your manager does if you see a trend of micromanagement. You can exhibit your capacity to think ahead by anticipating your next move. Provide regular status updates, for example, to lessen their perceived need to contact or email after business hours. Micromanagers often take confidence in having all of the project information they require. When you disclose this progress ahead of time, you foster trust and invite them to assign more duties to you.

#3. Make an effort to comprehend their actions.

To potentially lessen your manager’s micromanagement, attempt to identify their stress level and come up with strategies to alleviate their concern. Inform them that you intend to complete your assignment on schedule and that you understand they have other duties to attend to. Request more one-on-one meetings with your manager to see if this helps ease any concerns. More communication demonstrates that you care about your work and the success of the organization.

#4. Ask For a Change

When you’ve exhausted all other options, consider speaking directly to your management about their behavior. Inform them that you want to perform a good job and that you’ve noticed their level of involvement is excessive or unnecessary. Inquire explicitly if there are any steps you can do to improve your performance and gain their trust. Some supervisors will be open to this, while others may be put off by your candor.

Send a nice email informing them that you’d like to discuss strategies to improve your work performance. After discussing with you, your manager may be prepared to relinquish some power if you receive a positive response. If you do not receive the desired response, it may be time to reconsider your position with the organization. Evaluate whether the stress is worth the position.

#5. Encourage feedback

In areas that worry you, solicit feedback. For example, you may be unsure about a specific process but can describe to your manager how you might work through it and only require a little guidance rather than handholding. This may address concerns that would have otherwise prompted micromanaging behavior.

#6. Recognize the expectations

Once you’ve expressed your worries about micromanagement, ask your manager about particular work requirements. Continue to use this knowledge and check in with your manager daily to review and make modifications as needed.

#7. Propose a system of accountability.

A task-management software program that displays your progress is one method to foster transparent communication. Managers may take comfort in being able to view their team’s work and outstanding assignments at any moment. Before recommending this action, spend some time researching the best tools available, including their benefits and expenses. Offer to set up the system and train your team on how to use it.

#8. Think big

If you’re being micromanaged, it could be because of a larger issue involving your function or the roles of others. Attempt to comprehend additional factors of a specific project that may be adding to your manager’s stress level. Request a team meeting to discuss company goals and how individual roles affect task fulfillment.


In general, micromanagement has a negative connotation since it frequently limits personal development and innovation and undermines the sense of individual accomplishment and liberty. When managers scrutinize every element of an employee’s work, it may slow down the department’s general pace rather than stimulate production.

Micromanagement may be beneficial in some circumstances. For example, in organizations with significant employee turnover, when team members leave abruptly, less experienced employees may be expected to step in and replace the vacant post. In this case, step-by-step instructions and training are beneficial, especially if the organization does not intend to hire a replacement. Some employees may deliberately desire more direction to better grasp their duties, thus micromanagement may help them feel safer.


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