How to avoid the pitfalls of micromanagement (Article)

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Derek Stockley is a training and performance management consultant based in Melbourne, Australia. He conducts in-house and public training courses.(Google+).

This free High Performance Newsletter article explores the pitfalls and dangers of micromanagement.

Are you constantly checking the work of your team members? Are you a perfectionist?


I define micromanagement as:

Often unintentionally, a micromanager delves into too much detail. Rather than allowing people the responsibility and freedom to do their job, the micromanager monitors and reviews every task. This obsession with detail causes resentment, affecting staff performance in a negative way.

At one stage in my career I had two managers. I worked in a matrix structure - one was my line manager, the other a project manager. One of them let me do my job. The other micromanaged me, or at least he attempted to. He was so busy micromanaging everyone, I could hardly get in to see him. When I did have a meeting, we were constantly interrupted, because he was busy micromanaging others as well.

Micromanaging causes frustration. In the end, it can provide the impetus for staff to leave.

How to avoid micromanaging

Firstly, you have to focus on coaching and developing your people. Secondly, you have to use delegation techniques correctly. Finally you need to trust yourself and the people who work with you.

Coaching and development

Every opportunity should be used to develop your people. Your approach should embrace the concepts of life long learning. When assigning tasks, take the few extra minutes to explain the context of the task - what is involved and how does it relate to the bigger picture. Create the opportunity for your staff member to be interested in what you are asking them to do.


Whenever possible, try to delegate responsibility, not just assign tasks. You can still maintain some control, but the benefit of good delegation is that you assign the thinking required to the other person.


You need to develop trust. As your people develop, let them get on with it. Do not try to justify your own importance. It can be very annoying.

I heard of an interesting case recently. A person was selected as a minute taker for board meetings of a large organisation. Even though the person had prior experience, given the importance of the accurate recording of key decisions, it was felt that the minutes should be reviewed by the Secretary prior to release. This occurred. However, it became obvious that the checking process was no longer required when the only alterations made consisted of changing subheadings to italics. It was insulting for the checking process to continue. Clearly the minute taker had the skills and the responsibility should have been delegated.

Managers have to let go. They provide the broad direction and guidelines. They check and review, but only at the broad level. They do not need to redo the work. To do so only causes frustration and annoyance.


Micromanaging can do a lot of damage. It is unproductive. It benefits no-one.

Related reading

What is effective delegation? - effective delegation is defined and discussed.

Learning and development - explains learning concepts including life long learning.

Although this article is specifically about management, other articles under the following topics may also be useful:

Past favourite

Importance of teamwork - this article explores the continuing discussion about the importance of teamwork, an important concept for successful organisations.

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Derek Stockley conducts public training courses in both Melbourne and Sydney, Australia.


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