How to Manage Your Micromanagers

April 13, 2016
| ByMadison

Just about everyone, at some point in their career, has dealt with a leader who micromanages. Simply mentioning the term “micromanage” in a casual conversation can start an exchange of anecdotes and stories of executives who over managed their employees while working on major projects or even day-to-day activities. At best, micromanagement can be frustrating to direct reports, however at its worst it can crush morale, extinguish independent thinking and disengage employees. So, what can you do to make sure your leaders are leading smartly?

The Warning Signs

Micromanagers are amongst the easiest types to identify in the workplace. Here are some ways to spot a micromanager in your organization:

  • They have difficulty delegating.
  • When they attempt to delegate and assign tasks, they end up telling their employees how to do the work rather than trusting their expertise.
  • They spend more time working on low priority activities and projects.
  • They don’t solicit the opinions of their team or peers.
  • They want frequent updates on what their employees are working on and where they are.
  • Employees avoid them.
  • Their department has higher than normal employee attrition.
  • Their department is generally disengaged, and participation in the company’s rewards and recognition programs are low.

How To Help Them Change

While we just listed the negatives, it’s important to note that micromanagers can be very valuable to an organization. Typically, they are passionate about their work, pay great attention to details and are goal oriented with laser-like focus on positive outcomes. Often they feel as though they are helping their team by taking responsibility for everything, when in fact they are having the opposite affect. That’s why it’s so important that organizations learn how to change those negative behaviors, so the positive ones can shine.

Here’s where social recognition can help transform those behaviors. For example, a reward and recognition program specifically designed to acknowledge team members for their unique contributions in a department or on a project, reinforces to the micromanager the important roles each individual plays on their team. When the manager delivers detailed recognition that explains what the person did, how they did it, and why it helped the team, it strengthens the trust between the recipient and the manager.

Using your social recognition technology’s analytics, you can also identify gaps and opportunities for improvement. If a manager has not been recognizing their employees over the course of the program because they’ve been micromanaging and doing all of the work themselves, this presents an opportunity to have a one-to-one with the micromanager in question.


Transforming a micromanager into a leader capable of delegating work and trusting their employees doesn’t happen overnight. Essentially they need to learn how to manage in a completely different way that might feel foreign to them… at first. Over time, however, with the right tools they can learn to take a step back and become stronger, more effective leaders.

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