5 signs you’re micro-managing. And what to do instead.

 Profile image of Corine Hines From Spring Leadership

Corine Hines

Back in 2010, when I was just starting my coaching journey, I began seeing how powerful the process was for individuals. I’ve worked with all types of leaders and managers, from underrated heads of finance and recently recruited high potentials, to directors that were heading for burn out.  Watching them grow, develop better habits and improve their relationships, was incredible. But I was itching to have more impact on the wider business.

Personal transformations are amazing – but I knew that high performing teams aren’t created because one person transforms themselves.

Over the years we’ve developed an approach that helps individuals and teams make huge leaps forward – transformations that set them up for future success, which make a significant difference to them personally and to the bottom line.

Our techniques change businesses for the better. And it’s an absolute privilege to be involved.

Nobody admits on their LinkedIn profile to being an over-controlling micro-manager and there’s only a small percentage of (misguided) managers who actively choose this style.

But the reality is that that it’s incredibly easy for all of us to veer into micro-management if we begin to see lacklustre results, missed deadlines and projects being mismanaged.

You might be anxious to get results, so you dive into the detail and try to drive the work with your direct reports.

Have you started doing these 5 things?

1.      Increasing deadline reminders

2.      Getting more (and more) explicit in your instructions

3.      Picking up work that’s being left

4.      Giving proposals the once over (again)

5.      Joining your team leaders on their weekly huddles

You might feel you’re being helpful and showing what good looks like.

But you’re probably exhausted from doing your job AND theirs – plus it’s likely your team are feeling controlled and micro-managed.

So, what should you do instead?

Step 1

Leadership experts Heifetz and Linsky describe moving ‘from the dance floor to the balcony’.  Which means staying connected to the action with your team (on the dance floor) as well as having a clear focus on how effectively they are working (which you can only see from the balcony).

While you’re on the balcony, aim to get curious:

·        Look at the bigger picture – how does the company strategy align with             the teams?

·        How clear is everyone on the team goals?

·        What does a typical team meeting look like?

·        What gets in the way of deadlines?

·        How are your team collaborating with others?

Think about what’s coming over the future horizon for the company and the team. And what your customers think of the team.

Step 2

Gather your team and invite them to answer all these questions. Share your observations but prioritise listening to their views and ideas.

Step 3

Make a plan with your team. Talk about outcomes and accountability – don’t be the one driving the plan.

If you complete these steps, you’ll find less of a pull towards micro-managing.


It will take time and needs repeating.

You’ll struggle to get the balance right between the dancefloor and the balcony.

And everyone will complain they’re busy, busy.

But micro-managing will lead to staff attrition and burn out, and eventually this new approach will drive ownership and improved results.

So, which will it be? 👀