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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCF019: Micromanagement vs. Accountability

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Sometimes leaders need to be tough and detail-oriented, and sometimes they need to be flexible and empowering. You will find yourself in trouble if you stay at one extreme or the other long-term. In the case of managers who constantly obsess over their employees’ work end up hurting employee morale, productivity, and engagement. These micromanagers have good intentions. They want the best for the company and they want to do a good job, but they are really causing serious damage. This week, we will be discussing four signs that you might be a micromanager and some ways that you can start to draw clear boundaries that encourage creativity and accountability.

Types of Managers

  • Hands-off Manager

    • Focus on hiring the right people and then getting out of their way.

    • Provide tools, resources, and feedback, but give their people a long leash

    • Can be seen as a push-over if they do not:

      • Set clear expectations and boundary lines that cannot be crossed.

      • Hold employees accountable and challenge them when expectations are not met

  • Hands-on Manager

    • The typical hands-on manager prefers being fully immersed in the day-to-day activities of each of their employees.

    • This approach can be highly effective, if done with care and tact.

    • Hands-on managers can be like great coaches: They give constant, meaningful feedback and take the time to nurture their employees’ career growth.

    • These leaders can fall into the trap of micromanagement.

  • A micromanager is a boss or manager who gives excessive supervision to employees. Instead of telling an employee what task needs to be accomplished and by when, a micromanager will observe the employee's actions closely and frequently criticize the employee’s work and process.

Empowering leaders create engaged employees

  • Empowering leaders give their employees the freedom they crave to explore their ideas, to take smart risks, and to make mistakes.

  • They also found that the best empowering leaders were those that provided the tools their people needed as well as allowed for flexible schedules and working environments.Leaders need to find a balance between holding employees accountable for their work and micromanaging every single detail of their work.

  • Micromanagement leads to disengaged employees.

    • Disengagement increases absenteeism

    • Absenteeism can cost larger companies $600,000 each year

Q: Do you believe that you are a micromanager? What other qualities do people who micromanage have? Have you ever worked for a micromanager? If so, how did their habits affect the team’s productivity and morale?


  • You hold up every assignment and task your employees are working on because everything requires your approval.

    • You spend your time checking on other people’s work instead of doing your own work.

    • Your team’s progress is slower than expected.

    • You miss your deadlines.

  • Before you can stop micromanaging you will need to assess why you are doing it.

  • The Harvard Business Review has defined the top 2 reasons that leaders micromanage.

    • 1. They want to feel more connected with lower level workers

      • As managers move up through the ranks they feel more disconnected with the frontline, so they begin to micro-manage to reconnect.

      • To increase communication, they increase their requests for reports, status updates, and unannounced meetings.

  • 2. Leaders feel more comfortable doing their old job than leading the employees that are now doing the job.

  • To avoid this dynamic, you will need to constantly remind yourself that your role as a leader is to make good decisions and coach, not to oversee every step that your employees take.

Q: Describe in as much detail as possible what you think a healthy relationship with your team members should look like. How much time do you spend together doing work-related things? How much time do you spend together building community? How are projects delegated? How often are you being pulled into projects? Now, compare this ideal relationship with your current relationship. What areas do you think you need to improve?


  • You require frequent updates from your team on a variety of tasks

  • Sometimes you will need to just let go and trust the people that you have placed in the position.

  • Set clear boundaries and expectations so that you and your employees know when you should be involved in a project or given an update.

Q: What situations do you think require a manager to get involved in their employee’s projects? When do you tend to get involved? When you have seen a manager get involved in a project, what effect did they have? How was the project affected and how were the employees affected?


  • You spend more time instructing someone on how to do the task than the task will take to complete.

  • Your team will feel like robotic minions and will eventually disengage.

  • It is best to give trusted employees a broad vision of what you are trying to achieve and the resources to complete the task. Then, give them the freedom to use their creativity to achieve the desired result.

  • When people are given the freedom to achieve goals in their own way, they will be energized and feel like they have a voice in your organization.

  • To make sure you are still engaged in the process, be clear about your expectations and the circumstances under which you will need to intervene. For example, if the budget or deadlines are being compromised, or if there is heavy disagreement within the committee working on the task.

Q: How do you think you can avoid over-explaining and allow your employees to indicate how much guidance they need? Have you ever seen someone do this very well? What did they do? How much freedom is too much freedom when it comes to allowing employees to take ownership of a project?


  • You do all of the talking during meetings.

  • Your meetings are more about you communicating a list of tasks, announcements, and decisions than they are about productive team brainstorming.

  • You dismiss your team members’ ideas.

  • You interrupt everyone because your ideas are the best ideas.

  • If you are a leader that never lets people speak, you will soon find yourself surrounded by people that have nothing to say.

  • You are telling your people that their thoughts and input are not valued.

  • You need to let your team contribute so that they are commitment and engaged in their daily tasks and projects.

Q: What percentage of a meeting do you think should involve the boss or manager speaking? What percentage of the meeting should involve getting feedback and ideas from team members? How do your current meetings measure up? What changes might you see in your corporate culture if you increased the percentage of time that employees spoke in meetings and decreased the amount of time managers spend speaking?

Application Activities

  1. Evaluate how you spend your time during the week. Do you spend more time looking over other people’s work or focusing on your own responsibilities? One way to stop micromanaging is to set boundaries. Instead of looking over your employees’ work all day, set aside no more than one hour per day to check in or review important assignments. If you find yourself needing more than one hour, you need to determine if you are being overly-involved or if your employees are underperforming. Be critical and get a mentor’s help and advice to determine if this is an area where you can grow.

  2. Consider your employees’ level of engagement. Who is the least engaged, or most underutilized, member of your team? Set aside some time to meet with that employee and talk to them about what they really like about their job. Use their feedback to delegate responsibility to them that engages their strengths and passions. Once you have established clear deadlines, take your hands off the project until your next meeting with that employee (at least one week). When you meet again, focus on allowing your employee to take the lead in the conversation and only step in if it is necessary according to the boundaries you already set.

  3. If you are struggling with incorporating your team members into your meetings, spend some time this week coming up with an area each of your team members can be responsible for based on their current job description. Let these team members have the floor during meetings so that they can deliver information about their area and ask for feedback on their plans and struggles. Giving your team members this kind of ownership over their work is a risk, but it will increase your team’s chemistry and feelings of responsibility.

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