Management Matters: Micromanage Less

A boss who micromanages communicates by their actions a lack of trust in the professional abilities of their employees. Rather than feel encouraged and independent, the employee feels limited independence at work. Micromanaging interferes with the ability to actually get the job done; constant monitoring on the part of the boss deprives the employee from learning how to be self-sufficient and developing good judgment and ingenuity in getting projects and assignments completed.

There are a plenty of reasons that a manager will micromanage; a bad history with someone else taking on the task, trust issues, hyper responsibility, or over-the-top need for control. It actually doesn’t matter why the boss is a micromanager, because you are not a psychologist and work is not a therapy session. The goal is create an environment where work goals and objectives can be successfully accomplished and employees can develop and handle increasing levels of responsibility, freeing the boss up to do the things ONLY they can do.

If you want the behavior to stop, try negotiating some of the following strategies:

  • Send daily email updates of critical work assignments. They can be brief but they also keep people updated on an ongoing basis.
  • Hold a weekly call/meeting arranged that can serve as a progress report. Keep it structured and to the point: what I did this week, what I still need to get done, and what I need help with.
  • Identify critical milestones that are not negotiable and dates for review. Even if they are arbitrary or early, they provide anyone involved with expectations about work flow.
  • Determine deadlines and soft-deadlines (when an items is due for review, prior to the actual deadline).
  • Establish how a need for support and guidance will be communicated
  • Agree on clear and attainable standards for success so that work can meet those standards. Clarify when there are competing priorities, projects, or multiple managers involved.

Closely scrutinizing employees when it is not needed is not the best use of a manager’s time, and over-reporting to an over-involved boss is not useful for employee development and confidence. If you think the boss can and should back off a bit, negotiate a process that works for both of you. The outcome can lead to a better work relationship and a better work product. When trust and confidence are byproducts of a good working relationship, everyone wins.

Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management training and development consulting practice that specializes in developing human resources in the areas of leadership and management training, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 20 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at

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