Micromanagement: A Leader’s Wake-Up Call

Posted On: June 3

I teach leadership for a living. A key lesson: hire great people, get out of their way and let them do their work. But I made a mistake. I micromanaged a team member.

He sent me a website draft. It was very good. It would’ve been fine. But I rewrote all the copy and sent new pictures. I took over the project. 

Then it hit me. I was that guy. The micromanager. I apologized and gave the project back. He shared how challenging it is to tell your boss they’re micromanaging. He suggested I write this blog to help others in that situation.

How can employees address micromanagement with their boss? Here are a few tips:

  1. Schedule a one-on-one meeting. Have a private, honest conversation. Be well prepared for the meeting. Identify a clear outcome that you want to achieve.
  2. Give specific examples. Don’t generalize. Cite instances where you felt micromanaged.
  3. Explain the impact. Share how it affects your work, motivation, and growth. Tell them how it made you feel. I remember early in my career when my boss would swoop in and make all sorts of changes to my work. I felt humiliated. It hurt. I wanted to please him, but I felt like I had failed. Actually, he had failed.
  4. Reaffirm your commitment. Emphasize your dedication to excellence and results. Remind them of your track record of delivering superb work.
  5. Propose solutions. Suggest ways to maintain accountability with more autonomy. Ask your manager what would make them comfortable.
  6. Ask for clarity. Understand expectations and goals. It’s hard to achieve success when you’re not sure what success looks like.
  7. Follow up. Keep communication open. Let them know when they are falling back into micromanagement.
Remember, good leaders equip their people, then step back.

They trust the smart folks they’ve hired to do great work. Micromanagement kills motivation and creativity.

As a leader, I learned a hard lesson. Despite good intentions, I slipped into micromanagement. It’s a wake-up call to trust my team. I have amazing people who work with me. They always produce quality work. I should’ve known better.

To all the employees out there. Speak up. Have that tough conversation with your boss. Help them see the impact of micromanagement. Work together to find a better way.

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