Are you a micromanager?







Your boss holds you responsible for completing a big project on schedule and on budget, so you closely watch members of your team to make sure they do exactly what you need done in exactly the ways you need it done.

High expectations from your superiors means you set high standards for your subordinates. You measure their performance based not only on outcomes, but on their work processes and methods as well.

Quality control is your job, so you have no reservations about telling team members − no matter their skill level − exactly how you want something done. Sometimes in order to make sure Micromanagerit’s done your way, you just do it yourself.

You are a micromanager.

Successful managers know when to give directions, when to walk away, when check in, when to give advice, and even when insert themselves back into work processes. They also know the difference between being an involved and engaged manager, and being a micromanager.

There may be times when micromanaging is the right thing to do; such as an urgent situation in which quick decisions must be made. Occasionally you might even be the ideal person for the task at hand. But micromanaging can demoralize employees by stifling their creativity and development. It can raise resentment and destroy morale. It can also undermine operational efficiency and lower productivity because the best ideas aren’t being heard.

None of us likes to see ourselves as part of the problem, and obsessive managers rarely do.  But here are sure some signs that you are a micromanager:

  1. You’re swamped. You’re constantly running off to meetings or on the phone. There are just too many decisions to make and never enough hours in the day. When you’re not at the office you frequently call to check in. You insist on being consulted for every decision, and you rarely delegate because no one on your team is as capable as you.
  2. You hover. You need to see the work being done, so you’re always either close by or checking in. You expect to frequently hear from team members about where they stand and you need to know the steps they are taking to achieve the objectives you outlined.
  3. You dictate. Not only do you tell people what you want done, you tell them how you want it done, which is usually the way you would do it yourself.
  4. You control. You make sure everyone knows you’re the boss. You’re quick to point out even the smallest of mistakes, using them as opportunities to chastise rather than teach. Your team members tiptoe around you.
  5. You condescend. You’re patronizing to members of your team. You involve yourself in menial tasks, like telling your administrative assistant which sandwiches and cookies to order for the staff luncheon.

Knowing that you are a micromanager is the first step toward changing the behavior and empowering members of your team to develop, be creative and be productive. Here’s what you should be doing:

  • Lead − Rearticulate the vision of the organization into action steps that members of your team can comprehend and follow. Set expectations and then empower others to get the work done. High-performing, self-reliant team members need to know what is expected of them and then left alone to do the work.
  • Coach − Rapid change, high levels of uncertainty and conflicting organizational priorities can shake the confidence of even the most seasoned employees. Help them explore and overcome their challenges and fears by emphasizing their strengths and working with them to quickly get up to speed on new processes and procedures.
  • Mentor − Some members of your team want and need lots of attention. They are still finding their footing, adapting to the culture, trying to understand expectations, and trying to build confidence. They need more direction and input from you, but be careful not to overdo it. Know when to pull back and give them room to show what they can do.

©2014 Robert Naylor Coaching and Consulting, LLC. All rights reserved


Robert Naylor is a journalist, consultant, certified coach, facilitator, and speaker who helps people become better leaders, improve workplace performance, and find focus in their careers and life. He is available for on-site training, private coaching, keynote presentations, and commentary. For more information visit naylorcoaching online or contact

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