How to Avoid Micromanaging (When You Just Want to Help)

Have you ever been forced to choose between delegation and help? The situation that leaders frequently find themselves in.

As you assign duties to your team members with the intention of leading them to success, your anxiousness compels you to look over their shoulders occasionally to make sure everything is proceeding as planned.

However, your team can view your well-intended oversight as micromanagement. Even worse, you could unintentionally engage in micromanagement without even realising it.

I can vouch for that; believe me.

I can relate to these emotions because I’ve been there before. I was thrust into a leadership role in my first company at an early age and given the responsibility of leading a broad workforce with a range of backgrounds and abilities.

I thought that taking care of everything yourself would be the quickest way to get things done because I was young, ignorant, and enthusiastic. It turns out to be a logical fallacy. I just overcommitted instead of encouraging efficiency, which naturally reduced the calibre of the outcomes.

I negotiated a maze of team management techniques as I formed my team at LifeHack, a journey that was marked by both successes and failures. I gave several team members projects, objectives, and duties in an effort to avoid micromanaging, only to discover that they weren’t nearly prepared to handle the full load on their own. They required more direction and my input.

Other times, while trying to help, I unintentionally crossed the line into micromanaging. One of these times was when a team member informed me of it. She described feeling constrained and deprived of the freedom to be creative. A difficult pill to swallow, but one that must be learned.

I now have a greater understanding of leadership and the delicate balance it necessitates thanks to this furnace of struggles, tribulations, and acquired experience. I have developed my abilities throughout the years, and I am now prepared to share my knowledge with you.

This post serves as my manual for all managers and leaders, a reflection of my experiences, and it provides guidance on how to avoid the trap of micromanaging.

Why Would You Micromanage?

The Harvard Business Review[1] notes that there are two basic reasons why people feel the impulse to micromanage.

  1. Lower-level employees should be able to relate to managers. They want to keep an eye on daily activities and stay current with the facts on the ground.
  2. Instead of supervising workers who are now in charge of the duties that were once under their purview, managers find comfort in performing those jobs themselves.

However, micromanagement frequently has deeper roots. Let’s explore a couple additional causes:

Fear of things going awry is a major driver.

As a leader, you could worry that if you don’t maintain a tight rein, things will stray from the intended direction. Although natural, this anxiety has the potential to develop into micromanagement if not controlled.

A subtle belief that you can execute tasks better than others.

This may be the result of your prior accomplishments and experience. But keep in mind that your current responsibility is to mentor and guide others rather than to carry out all the work yourself.

The desire for control.

It’s a basic human instinct to try to influence every factor in order to achieve success. This could result in you, as the manager, micromanaging the actions of your team.

The first step in avoiding the micromanagement trap is realising these inclinations. You can alter these tendencies by choosing consciously if you are aware of them.

There is a narrow line between leading and dominating your team, even if you might want to be involved. It’s your responsibility as a leader to tread that line.

Are You Aware of the Consequences of Micromanagement?

Even while it frequently has the best of intentions, micromanagement has some very negative effects.

When teams are scrutinised, they start to feel that they are constantly being watched over and corrected since they are never meeting their boss’s standards. Over time, this may be hard on not only the staff but also the manager and the company.

Let’s examine the effects of micromanagement in detail:

  • Deflated confidence: Workers begin to mistrust their own talents, which erodes their confidence. They start to feel uneasy about taking initiative because they fear being criticised.
  • Trust issues: Micromanagement can damage the trust you have with your team. They can start to see you as a perpetual critic instead of a mentor and guide.
  • Worker concentration changes away from producing their best work when they spend too much time obtaining approvals and fretting about criticism. This may significantly reduce productivity.
  • decreased morale and motivation Employees lose their zeal when they are constantly being watched. The team’s morale declines and its desire to perform declines with time.
  • Impact on mental health: Constant micromanagement can make workers stressed out and anxious, which has a negative impact on their mental health. This may have an impact on their overall performance and job happiness, according to studies.
  • Teamwork and creativity are stifled when a boss micromanages; this limits employees’ ability to be creative. Additionally, because everyone begins to rely only on the manager’s opinion, teamwork is hampered.
  • Eventually, this climate may result in a high staff turnover rate. According to a survey, 36% of workers have really changed jobs as a result of a micromanager. This not only throws off the team’s rhythm but also costs the organisation money in terms of hiring and training new employees.

If you find yourself leaning towards micromanagement, these consequences are good reminders to avoid just that.

How to Avoid (Or Stop) Micromanaging

At the end of the day, as leaders, we want to create teams that can complete the task without our direct supervision. That is the essence of real leadership. The key is to lead the team in the proper direction while stepping aside to allow them shine, rather than micromanaging every aspect.

Here are 9 tips to help you stop micromanaging or prevent it:

1. Set up Clear Initial Guidelines When You Delegate

This strategy is easy to understand and effective. Make sure you set out a thorough plan before you assign a task. Clear instructions provide direction, empowering your team to complete tasks confidently and without worry of deviating from the plan.

How can you do this in a productive way? I’ll give you a personal illustration.

I started drafting manuals and project guidelines for LifeHack. My team members used these gadgets as compasses. They specified the tasks to be completed, the targets, the dos and don’ts, and the ultimate objectives. This clarity allowed them to operate autonomously and made sure that everyone was on the same page, which decreased the need for my ongoing supervision.

Keep in mind that when you delegate, you’re not merely passing along tasks. You’re giving your team members a duty to fulfil. Giving them clear instructions not only puts them on the path to success but also allays your concerns about things veering off course. Win-win situation.

2. Delegate Work to Capable Members / Hire Suitable Individuals

Micromanagement can be avoided by assembling a strong, competent team.

As a team leader, make sure the tasks you assign fit your team members’ skills and strengths. You can rest easy knowing that the job is in capable hands when duties are assigned to them.

The hiring process is where such a team is first assembled. It is crucial to pick the proper people for your team. Look for people that not only possess the required abilities but also exhibit a willingness to grow and change. They ought to be capable of managing work on their own while remaining receptive to direction and criticism.

The need to continually supervise decreases when you have a competent workforce. Instead of getting bogged down in the details of each work, you may concentrate on coaching and advising. This not only makes your life simpler but also encourages team members to learn, advance, and gain self-assurance in their skills.

3. Align Expectations with Shared Goals And Milestones

In addition to serving as markers on a project’s roadmap, clear goals and milestones are a potent preventative measure against micromanagement. This sets expectations around these objectives rather than just the activities that will get us there.

Discuss the intended goals with your team before beginning any project or job. Divide these objectives into manageable checkpoints. In this manner, everyone is aware of their goals. It’s about reaching a shared goal, not checking things off a checklist.

Every time a new project came up at LifeHack, we had a routine. I would gather the crew together and go over the objectives and checkpoints that would get us there.

This discussion wasn’t one-sided. It was a conversation when ideas and suggestions were shared. This made sure that everyone was on board with the strategy and in line with both the tasks and the overall goal. I no longer needed to always be watching over my team members thanks to this practise.

By setting clear expectations, you enable your team to make decisions that best advance the objectives of the project. And as a result, an environment free from the constraints of micromanagement is created where innovation can flourish.

4. Implement a Check-In System For Project Transparency

You don’t need to constantly be looking over your team’s shoulder to monitor progress. You can achieve this by establishing a routine check-in mechanism. Such a strategy promotes a sense of shared responsibility by keeping you informed and ensuring that your team members are aware of their progress.

Project management tools are useful in this situation. These tools provide a summary of the tasks, deadlines, and milestones, keeping everyone on the same page. More importantly, they contribute to the development of an open and transparent workplace where everyone can see how their individual efforts affect the overall result.

At LifeHack, we used programmes like Basecamp and GTMHub. These systems served as our mission control hubs. They kept tabs on our tasks and progress, as well as our milestones.

This meant I could stop checking in with my team to see how they were doing. I just needed to log in, and the information was available. More significantly, my staff was able to see the results of their labour and how it affected our projects.

Continual check-ins and open tracking let your team feel more independent. It makes it evident that you have faith in them to complete the task. And staying off the micromanagement beaten path is made easy by doing that.

5. Focus on Your Unique Role: Do Only What Only You Can Do

Do you recall the proverb, “Stick to what you know best”? You can avoid micromanagement in leadership by applying a modest variation of the proverb “Do only what you can do.”

As a leader, your main responsibility is to steer, motivate, and make sure the ship stays on course rather than doing everyone else’s work. It involves directing the vision, developing the strategy, and establishing the parameters that your team must work inside.

Your attention should be directed on tasks that are only related to your job, such as strategic planning, team development, developing a great workplace culture, and upholding stakeholder relations.

You give your team more time to excel in their areas of expertise by concentrating on the duties that you alone can complete. This increases the effectiveness of the team while also promoting trust and autonomy among the team members.

Fundamentally, leadership isn’t about directing how each task is completed. It’s about controlling the results and making sure that your team’s combined efforts are in line with your common objectives.

6. Be a Facilitator, Not a Task Manager

To step back from micromanagement, one must alter one’s perspective. Consider yourself more of a facilitator who helps your team realise its potential rather than a taskmaster who issues commands. This entails cultivating an atmosphere of open communication in which ideas are freely exchanged, problems are publicly discussed, and discourse is free-flowing.

Your team will be more inclined to solve difficulties on their own and approach their task with confidence if they know they can come to you with any questions or concerns. Being available and demonstrating your team’s trust can go a long way towards building an environment of independence and accountability.

Sharing your ideas, worries, and the “why” behind your choices is one approach to display trust. This helps your team understand your expectations and invites them into your thought process. Keep your questions to a minimal; ask just enough to be informed without interfering with their work.

We emphasised the value of open communication at LifeHack. I made sure that my team understood that I was there to support and mentor them rather than to direct their every action.

I made sure everyone was aware of my expectations and the justification for them by clearly stating them, which generated a strong sense of camaraderie and a shared goal.

The objective is to create a cohesive team where each member is aware of their place in the larger scheme of things.

7. Be Open to the Right Queries

Being approachable doesn’t need you to respond to every quick question that comes your way. Here, it’s important to promote the appropriate kinds of inquiries — those that promote critical thinking, innovation, and alignment with your project objectives.

Your time is valuable, so focus it on pressing issues with goal alignment, strategic planning, and ideation. Encourage your team to come to you with broad questions, ones that can advance the project or bring fresh insight to your shared objectives.

With my team, I have always encouraged this kind of conversation. Yes, I was receptive to inquiries, but more importantly, I was receptive to inquiries that were significant. Questions that may have an effect on our work, alter our perspective, or generate fresh concepts. My team was aware that they could turn to me for advice on these more important matters while being trusted to manage the day-to-day specifics independently.

This chosen openness accomplishes two things. It prevents you from getting bogged down in the minute details of the day and makes sure your attention is always on the bigger picture. It simultaneously gives your employees the authority to handle their own jobs, successfully preventing micromanagement.

8. Equip Your Team for Independence

Empowering your team is one of the best strategies to stop micromanaging tendencies. And what better approach to empower people than by giving them the abilities to handle duties and resolve issues on their own?

Invest in your team’s training. Aid them in increasing their knowledge, competencies, and skill sets. Your team members are less likely to need frequent monitoring if they feel secure in their skills. This enables you to take a backward step, secure in their ability to carry out their duties well.

In a sense, training your team members is an ongoing investment. You’re preparing them not only to handle their current jobs more effectively, but also to handle more difficult difficulties in the future. By doing this, you effectively avoid the trap of micromanagement and create a system that runs effectively even without continual supervision.

9. Embrace a Fail-Forward Mindset

The need to micromanage is frequently fueled by perfectionism. Any divergence from how we expect things to be done can look like a failure.

However, there is a truth that we frequently ignore: failure isn’t the enemy. It’s a great instructor, in fact. You must be prepared to give your team the freedom to experiment, fail, and make errors if you genuinely want them to develop.

Adopting a fail-forward mindset entails seeing failure as a springboard rather than a roadblock to progress. When you give your team members room to experiment and fail, they inevitably learn important lessons that propel them to success more quickly.

Here at LifeHack, we totally concur with this viewpoint. Not only were we willing to try again, but we welcomed failure as a chance for development. When things didn’t work out as we had hoped, we didn’t dwell on the setback but instead considered what we could have done differently the next time.

The function of a leader is more akin to a coach than a captain. Your role is to lead your team so they can navigate the seas independently rather than to always be the captain and direct the ship.

Bottom Line

Micromanagement is more than just getting too involved in your team’s work. It has to do with trust, or rather, a lack thereof. Have faith in your team’s abilities, dedication, and ability to perform under pressure. After providing them with the resources they require to succeed, let them get to work.

The payback is enormous: a team that is more engaged, productive, and capable of accomplishing great things. It’s a transition that takes letting go. There is no greater accomplishment for a leader than that.

I have personally experienced these lessons as I transitioned from a youthful team leader to an experienced manager. Although it is a difficult road, it is one that is worthwhile. I hope that these observations might act as useful signposts that will direct you away from micromanagement and in the direction of empowered leadership.

Always keep in mind that effective leaders don’t just make followers; they also make more leaders. So relax, have faith in your people, and watch as they rise to the occasion. You’re creating the leaders of the future, not just a stronger team.


  • Micromanagement is a result of a need for connection and control that is frequently fueled by worry about the future or the conviction that the boss can do duties more effectively than the team.
  • Micromanagement has detrimental effects on employee morale, productivity, and motivation. It also hinders teamwork and innovation, negatively impacts mental health, and increases turnover rates.
  • Setting up clear beginning instructions, distributing work to skilled team members, and coordinating expectations via definite goals and deadlines are all ways to avoid micromanagement.
  • Regular check-ins using project management tools maintain transparency and increase team trust.
  • Instead of supervising all tasks, a leader should concentrate on duties that only they can complete, defining boundaries, and monitoring outcomes.
  • To avoid becoming bogged down in petty task specifics, leaders should be open to large, brainstorming-style inquiries that encourage problem-solving and strategic thinking.
  • Avoiding micromanagement requires behaving more as a facilitator of teamwork and open communication than as a taskmaster.
  • The team can handle duties and issues autonomously if they are trained and given new abilities.
  • Teams can develop and succeed more quickly when they adopt a “fail-forward” mentality, where failures are viewed as teaching moments.
  • Avoiding micromanagement requires a strong foundation of trust. A leader can take a backseat and let the team shine when they have faith in their members’ abilities, dedication, and ability to succeed.
  • Not making followers but empowering more leaders is the ultimate aim of leadership. A leader creates an environment where the team can develop and become future leaders by refraining from micromanaging.

Have you ever been forced to choose between delegation and help? The situation that leaders frequently find themselves in. As you assign duties to your team members with the intention of leading them to success, your anxiousness compels you to look over their shoulders occasionally to make sure everything is…

Have you ever been forced to choose between delegation and help? The situation that leaders frequently find themselves in. As you assign duties to your team members with the intention of leading them to success, your anxiousness compels you to look over their shoulders occasionally to make sure everything is…

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