Ask an expert: how to quit micromanaging

Why making changes to an employee’s work simply for the sake of making changes is a habit worth breaking.

Micromanagers are known for peering over employees’ shoulders, stifling their independence and meddling in the minutiae of their everyday work. In a recent Accountemps survey, the majority of workers polled said they have firsthand experience with an overbearing boss and of those who felt they’d been micromanaged, more than half said it decreased their morale and productivity. Here’s how micromanagers can learn to loosen the reins.

Let it go. Start practising restraint by dropping the red pen. You don’t need to put your personal stamp on every item that passes your desk. Making changes to an employee’s work simply for the sake of making changes is a habit worth breaking.

Keep the check-ins in check. Constantly inquiring about routine assignments rarely helps employees get them done any faster or more efficiently. Provide clear directions, check in once if need be and then trust your team to do its job.

Get to the point (person). Identify a few tasks you currently handle that can be easily delegated to someone else. Think about the time and skills needed for the job and then assign accordingly.

Stop sweating the small stuff. When you allow yourself to get bogged down by the little things, you’re taking away time and energy from bigger-picture organizational objectives that could have a far greater impact on the bottom line.

Empower your employees. When they’re managing projects, give team members the freedom to make decisions — and, yes, mistakes. You might encounter some initial hiccups, but in the long run, offering autonomy will help your employees build their problem solving and leadership skills.

About the Author

Max Messmer

Max Messmer is chairman of Accountemps and the author of Motivating Employees For Dummies (

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