How to stop micromanaging

Are you the type of boss who obsesses about detail and is never satisfied with your team’s work? You could be a micromanager. Exerting too much control is a barrier to getting things done. So how can you stop micromanaging?


Most employees don’t enjoy being watched over like a hawk. Let’s face it, it’s hard for anyone to relax when they have a boss who’s forever hovering over them, inspecting and critiquing everything they do. It stifles creativity, breeds distrust and demoralizes teams.

Poor management is among the top three reasons employees resign,, so it’s in your best interest to nip controlling behavior in the bud before it damages your workplace culture.

What is micromanaging?

What is micromanaging?

Micromanaging is where a team leader closely monitors and controls their employee's day-to-day work. People who micromanage often avoid giving responsibility to others so they can make all the decisions. Instead of supervising, they dictate.

Micromanaging is an extreme managerial style – which doesn’t inspire healthy working relationships. If employees don’t have any autonomy over how they work, they start to question whether their manager trusts their judgment, skills and expertise. This can lead to low morale and insecurity. Even worse, it can cause severe anxiety and workplace burnout.

And when employees are unhappy, they’ll seek opportunities elsewhere.

A 2023 CIPD report shows a direct link between poor managers and negative mental health, job satisfaction and performance among workers. It found that:

  • 50% of workers with the lowest rated managers are more likely to suffer mental health issues compared with 14% of workers with the best managers.

  • 30% of people with the least effective managers are satisfied with their work compared with 88% with the highest rated managers.

  • 38% of employees with the worst managers are willing to go the extra mile compared with 74% of employees with the best managers.

One of the biggest challenges a manager faces is learning how to delegate. If you become too involved in your employees’ work, you can come across as micromanaging, whether intentional or not.

A manager's job is to provide guidance and support so their people can perform at their best. Employees can only reach their true potential by being given the opportunity to take responsibility for their own work. Micromanaging hampers your team’s ability to grow.

Why do people micromanage?

Why do people micromanage?

Much of micromanagement is rooted in fear and insecurity. Managers are afraid that their team members will do something to tarnish their hard-earned reputation. Or they worry they’ll appear out of touch if they’re not across all the details. So they overcompensate by controlling excessively.

Common reasons for micromanaging are:

  • Lack of managerial experience and an inability to delegate

  • Loss of control over projects

  • Lack of trust and respect

  • Wanting to feel more connected with lower-level workers

  • Having very inexperienced employees on the team

  • Missing doing a previous job

  • Feeling compelled to show authority to justify a promotion or pay rise

  • Being a perfectionist with a need to stay in control at all times

  • Poor self-image and high levels of self-doubt

  • Believing that other people’s work might make them appear inadequate

There’s a fine line between knowing what’s going on and being over-controlling, which is why it’s so easy to get managing wrong.

What does micromanaging look like?

What does micromanaging look like?

If you’re worried you have a tendency to over-control others, what are the signs of a micromanager to look out for? You could be guilty of micromanaging if:

1. You resist delegating work

For many managers, the idea of handing over control to team members is unimaginable. They find delegating incredibly difficult, but this causes two big issues. First, team members find themselves having to ask for approval about everything, which destroys self-confidence. In return, the manager ends up taking on too much of other people’s work to maintain a high level of control, neglecting their own leadership responsibilities.

2. You ask for frequent updates

Someone who likes to be in control will insist on being kept informed at every opportunity. This takes precious time away from the project in hand and puts unnecessary pressure on employees. People who feel they constantly have to justify themselves will feel as though they’re not trusted to do their jobs.

3. You focus on details rather than the bigger picture

Micromanagers have a tendency to become bogged down in the minor details of tasks. They fail to see the bigger picture of company objectives and what employees need to achieve.

4. You like to be cc’d on all comms related to a project

Wanting to be copied into every message and email indicates a fear of being left out of the loop. Micromanagers get annoyed when colleagues discuss projects and make decisions without their input.

5. You set unrealistic deadlines

Micromanagers may set deadlines with no room for flexibility if unexpected delays happen that are beyond anyone’s control. They may also keep interrupting current projects with more ‘urgent’ tasks so teams are left trying to juggle too much at once.

6. You need to approve every decision

Many people who micromanage believe they’re the only ones capable of making sound decisions. Their need to monitor all work processes, even minor ones, means that even straightforward projects become needlessly overcomplicated.

7. You think work has to be done your way

Micromanagers tend to think they know best and will scrutinize the performance of others. They continually redo employees’ work if it’s not up to their standards and often believe they’re working with people less capable than themselves.

8. You don’t share information with your team

Controlling managers try to make themselves indispensable by not giving too much away and choosing not to share the knowledge and skills they’ve learned. They feel threatened by other team members who they think may be after their job.

9. You have a high employee turnover

It’s no surprise that most employees don’t appreciate being micromanaged. A worker who feels unhappy, demotivated and not trusted will have low job satisfaction levels. This, in turn, leads to higher staff absence and lower retention levels.

Untangle work with Workplace

From informing everyone about the return to the office to adopting a hybrid way of working, Workplace makes work more simple.

How to stop being a micromanager

How to stop being a micromanager

Micromanaging can be a hard habit to break, but it’s important to learn to let go of control to get the best out of your team. Here’s how to overcome micromanagement:

Put your team together carefully

The best way to stop micromanaging is by surrounding yourself with people you can trust to do a job well. Granted, that’s easier said than done, but try to hire the right talent from the get-go and give them the onboarding tools and information they need to succeed. You’re less likely to have to micromanage someone who has the skills and experience you need to deliver great results.

It’s good for the company too. For high turnover jobs, it can cost around 16% of an employee’s salary just to recruit and train a replacement.

Focus on outcomes rather than tasks

When you assign a task, explain what needs to be done, not how to do it step by step. Your preferred way isn’t necessarily the only way. As long as the same outcome is achieved and a realistic deadline is met, it shouldn’t matter whether tasks are done a certain way.

Do let team members know they can ask you for guidance if they’re struggling to complete a task on time though.

Practice delegating

Putting important tasks in someone else’s hands is tough if your natural instinct is to take control. But delegating is an essential skill for all managers to learn.

If the thought of letting go makes you feel uncomfortable, practice delegating small, less important tasks first before building up to bigger projects. By handing over responsibility, you’re empowering your team to become better employees.

Manage your own time

Determine what work is crucial for you to be involved in, and what tasks can be given to someone else to complete. There may be times when keeping a closer eye on a particular project is called for, for example if you’ve taken on a new contract or there have been complaints from a valuable client.

But, ultimately, the more you delegate and manage productivity effectively, the more you can free up your own time to focus on activities that will bring in the most revenue for your company.

Understand how people on your team like to be managed

It’s worth asking everyone on your team how they prefer to be managed as some may want more instruction than others. It’s also an opportunity for you to be upfront about how you might be finding it difficult to let go of control and that you’d still like to be kept in the loop – just not every minute of every day.

By having a grown-up two-way conversation, you’re showing you value your team’s opinions. This builds trust.

Introduce meeting-free days

One study shows that implementing no-meeting days can significantly reduce stress and the effects of micromanagement. Give employees the freedom to work on their own initiative and collaborate with colleagues in ways that feel natural – not forced interactions through meetings.

Go outside your comfort zone when learning to trust

It’s not easy, but giving your employees more responsibility than you’re comfortable with will be better for both them and you in the long run. Give them a chance to prove they can step up and solve problems on their own. With more accountability and less intervention, most will perform a lot better and eventually won’t need much management at all.

If things don’t go exactly as you’d like, try not to overact. Consider it a lesson learned for next time.

While it’s good to give employees more autonomy, it doesn’t mean you should overload them with extra work and responsibilities. Nor should you stop checking in and providing feedback altogether. Let your team know you’re there for them if they need you. Otherwise, learn to trust their judgment and skills so they can grow as a team, and your organization can grow as a whole.

Keep reading:
Was this article helpful?
Îţi mulţumim pentru feedback

Recent posts

Team collaboration | 10 minute read

How to build team collaboration.

A collaborative approach can help your people work smarter, more creatively and more effectively. Here’s how to get team collaboration right.

Team Collaboration | 3 minute read

Multidisciplinary collaboration

Discover essential tips to improve multidisciplinary collaboration, including the benefits of multiple points of view and how to improve teamwork in your workplace.

Team collaboration | 8 minute read

How To Make Cross-team Collaboration Work Effectively

Learn how to encourage cross-team collaboration and understand the best practices and pitfalls to leverage better collaboration across your teams