7 signs of micromanagement and how to deal with it

pennyLEADERSHIP, Micro-Management

signs of micromanagement in the workplace

What do you think are the signs of micromanagement in the workplace?

Micromanagement is an old form of management that we tend to use by default in managing our teams, employees and workspaces.  But as the years go by, we have been made to realize the dangers, and ineffectiveness of micromanagement.

Henry Stewart, business author and CEO of Happy  stated in 2020 that the number one frustration of employees is micro-management.

Over 59% of people have been managed by a micromanager at some point in their career. A different study found that 36% of employees have changed jobs as a result of being under a micromanager.

Micromanaging often leads to morale dives as employees lose faith in their boss’s trust in them.

Yet, for businesses to thrive in a fast-paced world, it needs all hands on deck. Hence, we must develop a safe and empowering environment, where everyone has the opportunity to make the best of their creative and innovative minds. That way, you have the best people to push forward and remain competitive. That is why in this article, we will look at:

  • What is micromanagement?
  • Why do we tend to micromanage?
  • What are the signs of micromanagement?
  • How does micromanagement negatively impact workspace performance?
  • How to solve micromanagement


What is micromanagement?


Micromanagement refers to the control of a business or project with excessive attention to minor details. It is all about observing, monitoring, and trying to control everything our subordinates do.

So, when we act as micromanagers, we let paying attention to detail precede performance, productivity and efficiency.

We are always eager to know every single stage of each task.

It’s just as though we have a camera or microscope over the tiniest aspects of our team’s work.

But then attention to detail is, of course, a necessity for business success. You can’t possibly avoid supervising your projects and brand and hope for the best results.

The question is – what differentiates making sure your employees, and team are doing their best from holding a microscope over their heads?

It is quite possible to have no idea about how much of a micromanager we are to our employees.

Let us consider what makes the psychology of micromanagers different so we can look out for its signs and avoid it. So, why do we micromanage?

Psychology of micromanagers

There is no straight answer to why we micromanage.

But the bottom line is that toxic micromanagement often starts with the best of intentions.

Sometimes micromanaging is even useful such as when onboarding new employees, carrying out experimental work, or when it’s necessary to control or offer expert guidance.

However, when the impulse to control everything starts taking over, then it’s time to take a step back.

Usually, the psychology to micromanage falls within these four categories:

     – Trying to be very hands-on, highly involved, and highly engaged

Perhaps it’s the desire to be a very hands-on leader who knows their people and their work. Or it’s the zeal to be closely involved in tasks and processes to ensure that everything goes according to plan, especially with business-critical tasks and key clients.

    – Fear of losing control

According to Mark Murphy, a Leadership expert, and best-selling author, micromanagers are often terrified that their team members would do something to destroy their hard-earned reputation. So, they take control of the details, to avoid possible negative outcomes.

But before long, we become so obsessive about getting as much information as possible, fighting over the smallest meaningless details and seeking frequent signs of work, that we fail to see the big picture

    -Projecting own insecurities

Other times, it’s the feeling of incompetence marred by the imposter syndrome that drives us to undermine our own self-worth and autonomy in a way that we project those feelings onto our employees and may subconsciously begin to see their achievements or ability to make great decisions on the go as a threat to our self-worth.

    -Pressure from leadership

Micromanaging may also seem like the only way to handle things when we experience intense pressure from our line managers.

We are so fearful of presenting negative results to our leadership team, and thereby creating a fearful and anxious workspace that exerts undue pressure on our team to deliver on impossible targets or budgets.

Other signs of micromanagement

Sometimes micromanaging isn’t as obvious as these four categories I outlined. So, here are some other signs of micromanagement to help you reassess your leadership skills:

  • The need to be cc’d on every email
  • Asking for frequent updates
  • Loves to see the team working when one’s working
  • Finds it hard delegating challenging tasks to employees
  • Expects overly-detailed reports regularly
  • Finds it hard being satisfied with deliverables that aren’t made by you
  • Suggests unrealistic deadlines
  • Always swamped with low-priority tasks that you don’t trust others to handle
  • Projects often go through multiple edits or revisions
  • Routinely asks employees to stop their work to take care of an emergency
  • Becomes irritable when decisions happen independently without input
  • Feels that a task can only be done precisely right if they do it themselves
  • Tells employees precisely how tasks should be done and leaves no room for initiative or creativity
  • Continuously focuses on monitoring the activities and behavior of employees to see what they are working on
  • Zero interest in passing on skills and knowledge to employees
  • Micromanagers tend to complain constantly and are never satisfied
  • Insists on detailed documentation of work processes
  • The belief that no one else is capable
  • Re-dos the work of employees after it has been finished
  • Communicates with employees outside of business hours
  • Requires weekly and monthly activity reports from everyone


Micromanagement is the death of teams. Successful leadership demands re-inventing your business culture to give people autonomy Share on X

9 awful dangers of micromanagement in the workplace

1. Micromanagement kills innovation

Innovation is super important to growth in any business. One of the biggest growth markers of a well-honed leadership trait is a willingness to maximize the potential of your team.

You must give room to your team to find solutions to problems, including problems you never knew were there in the first place. When micromanagement prevails, your team would find it challenging to take ownership, and responsibility for their roles, tasks, and projects.

They become stuck in a circle of following instructions instead of taking the time to think out of the box and come up with something exceptional.

Is your team struggling with brainstorming new ideas?

Perhaps, it’s time to make some changes to your company culture to create avenues that would push them to go beyond prescribed rules and instructions.


2. Micromanagement creates robots

One of the greatest dangers of micromanagement is creating what I call a ‘robot crew’. In this case, employees are no longer quite confident in themselves.

So, they find it challenging to carry out tasks and will often prefer to do nothing unless they have regular supervision.

These employees have lost their critical reasoning skills, which means they can no longer identify and help the company take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

Doing their own tasks also appears to proceed at a slow pace because every step requires a trip back to request a go-ahead.


3. Stifles learning

Learning is highly important to the growth of every workplace. When we micromanage, we tend to limit opportunities to learn. We think that trying to support our employees is synonymous with tackling every challenging task by ourselves, leaving our teams to only carry out the grunt work.

When we fail to challenge or stimulate our teams and insist on doing the challenging tasks on our own, we make it difficult for our teams to learn and grow within their roles.

4. Micromanaging demoralizes

No one likes to be persistently checked on. Our teams would become less motivated if we were consistently checking in and criticizing their work.

Often, we make the mistake of viewing constant criticism as coaching. Instead of pointing out their shortfalls, consider encouraging your people to participate, make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. coaching is challenging them with questions, not criticizing.


5. Micromanagement undermines trust 

Trust is a highly important element in high-performance teams. When we micromanage, we fail to trust our people or that they can do their jobs to the standard and within timeframes.

Soon we’ve got annoyance and tension all over the place, which undermines performance and productivity. When a work environment is tense, stifling, and oppressive, underperformance and rebellion tend to follow.


6. Micromanagement wastes valuable time

Spending so much time as a manager checking and monitoring what each employee is doing at every moment can be counterproductive.

That persistent interference becomes a huge distraction that limits workflow and will affect your team’s response time.

Instead of spending time trying to discover how employees do their work, it’s much better to spend time improving processes, developing systems, and poring over the big picture.

7. Micromanagement leads to burnout in everyone

Micromanaging is a stressful and annoying process for both the employee and leadership. For the manager, the stress of monitoring and guiding employees on every task takes a tool.

Over time, you become exhausted and frustrated that your employees can’t seem to think for themselves and must always seek attention on every whim.

For the employees, the claustrophobia that comes from being watched on everything begins to create a lot of tension, leading to more mistakes.

8. Micromanagement causes high turnover and revenue loss

No one likes to be micro-managed. Hence, highly-skilled and valuable employees who value their self-worth and confidence would hate being in work environments that never allow them to reach the heights of their potential.

They already know that their skillsets are a currency in the marketplace. So instead of staying where they are consistently underhanded, they will leave in search of better work environments.

If you consider the amount of time, effort, and resources that has been spent to hire these employees in the first place and would be spent again to replace them, then it’s quite certain that micromanaging leads to loss of revenue.


9. Micromanaging creates too much room for the blame game

It is important to realize that micromanagement does not help your employees become responsible team members. In turn, the lack of morale and sense of responsibility and ownership equally means they are less likely to pay attention and would lead to lots of mistakes in their work.

When they make a mistake or don’t handle a task properly, they shift the blame fast to their manager or colleagues.

And of course, since no one wants to take responsibility, it becomes a circle of blame games, which limits avenues for seeking solutions to the problem.

That way, when our employees make mistakes, they will swiftly take responsibility for their actions or errors and possibly find a way to fix them.


How to stop micromanaging people

Micromanagement is the death of teams. Instead of micromanaging, focus on re-thinking practices to help bring out the best in your people. Here are some practices you can try:

  1. Define Processes: Have your team develop the systems and processes to guide your employees
  2. Clear Objectives: Make sure objectives and goals for each project are actionable, quantifiable, have a deadline, and are ambitious
  3. Conduct Workshops -Frequently ask your team to come up with ideas to improve not only your business in general but the workspace and problem areas.
  4. Define Deliverables: clearly define what is to be delivered and be flexible to accept alternative methods to achieving deliverables
  5. Report Lessons: Make room for mistakes and have people share the lessons they have gotten. They are important to progress and success.


Concluding thoughts

Micromanagement creates a toxic and transactional atmosphere where numbers, not people, matter.

Building an organization that is backed by highly talented employees, it is highly important to do away with toxic micromanagement. So instead of hovering around your team, consider measures that would push them to give their best in everything.

Help them to gain the foresight and intelligence to find their own solutions to problems and you will see immense productivity.

Embrace failure and remember to focus on developing your own skills, roles, and responsibilities.

Doing away with micromanagement may go against your natural instincts but the immense returns it would bring to your organization and team are worth it.