The Madness of Micromanagement

17 Oct The Madness of Micromanagement


If you want something done right, do it yourself.” – Charles-Guillaume Étienne (1778-1845)

One of the most common complaints employees have about their supervisors is one that damages employee moral, creativity, and productivity: micromanagement. Mr. Étienne’s attitude seems to make sense for trivial tasks, but he probably never executed a project with a large team and reported to upper management.

Many factors lead to this phenomenon. Some studies have suggested that micromanagers simply have a “control freak” personality. Others suggest they haven’t let go of their focus on day-to-day activities as they ascend the corporate ladder.

A common denominator

The common thread between all of these theories is the hypothesis that a lack of trust is the real driver of micromanagement. What drives this lack of trust are more basic fears. But, what are these micromanagers so afraid of? There is general agreement that they are afraid of appearing incompetent and losing their position of power. And they are afraid the very people they should be leading could replace them. These are powerful motivators. The lack of trust that follows makes it nearly impossible for the manager to effectively delegate work and empower the team.

How can a manager and the team improve this situation? In other words, how can they address and eliminate these fears? Transparency and communication can go a long way.

The role of information

Managers need meaningful insights to know which projects, tasks, and people require their attention to drive progress. Delivering these insights in an effortless way is what drove Treeveo to develop its platform.

Employees have a crucial role to play here. They can neutralize their manager’s fears of “driving blind” by providing a clear picture of progress. Unfortunately, this often leads to time-consuming reporting – a clear obstacle to employee productivity. This balance is very difficult to strike. But the need for information shouldn’t be surprising because we all want to now where we stand.


We can see examples of this in our everyday lives. If we want to know how big the electricity bill will be at the end of the month, we can look at the meter. And if we want to know if we can treat ourselves to a shopping spree, we can check our bank account balance instantaneously. An accurate snapshot of the world around us soothes our nerves; we know what to expect and can react accordingly.

At the same time, managers have the duty to clearly define responsibilities and deliverables to the team. Employees can then execute confidently knowing what is expected of them and how their efforts contribute directly to the objective. When a manager is confident that all team members understand and accept their roles and responsibilities, he can spend his effort on the most important task: Leadership.

Let’s all do our part

A team working under these conditions can do what it was built to do: get on with the execution. Relevant “vital signs” flow to the manager from an empowered and well-informed team. Creativity and a free flow of ideas can flourish while the burden of project controlling fades into the background.

Strong and frequent communication between managers and their teams can go a long way in addressing the basic fears that underpin micromanagement. Employees should take an active role in establishing the paths of communication in order to help address the underlying fears of their managers. And managers should be aware that this is a tedious and time-consuming task for their teams. They should take steps to make this process as fast and effortless as possible.

Many complain about being micromanaged but very few admit do doing it. Responsible leaders should be proactive in creating team environments that ward off their own tendencies to micromanage, which they are often not even aware of. Creating the transparency to help them avoid these natural tendencies is an obvious way to get more out of their teams.

This is why Treeveo was built. Allow your team to be empowered without looking over their shoulders. For more information, check us out at


Written by Robert Jelenic (Linkedin)




*Jacobs, D. (2012, March 7). How to Manage a Micromanager. Retrieved from
Ashkenas, R. (2011, November 15). Why People Micromanage. Retrieved from
Marie, J. (2014, July 27). Micromanagers: Flushing Companies Down the Toilet, One Detail at a Time. Retrieved from


Adam Highfill

Leader and Entrepreneur at heart. Lover of travel and activity. Bachelor of Finance. Master of International Business.

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