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  • Writer's pictureStefano Calvetti

The Micromanagement Manifesto: 5 Signs You're Stifling Your Team (Without Realizing It)

When you care about every comma in your employee's email more than the message's actual content, this post could be for you.

Yes, because with this post, I want to give you the tools to self-diagnose one of the leaders' most common misbehaviors: MICROMANAGEMENT!

A person with curly hair holding a magnifying glass close to their right eye, making the eye appear comically enlarged. The individual is pulling a funny face with pursed lips and a dubious expression, accentuating the humorous effect. The image represents the magnifier used by micromanagers to control the work of their team members. The plain background emphasizes the subject.
Micromanagement is the "art" of giving excessive supervision to employees

Micromanagement is like being followed around by a pesky shadow that critiques not just the direction you walk but also the way you tie your shoes, the rhythm of your steps, and the pace at which you're moving. It's the managerial equivalent of someone watching over your shoulder so closely that you can feel their breath on your neck as you type an email, questioning every comma and period.

In essence, it's the "art" of excessively supervising employees, akin to believing you must pilot a plane when you've asked someone else to do so. Imagine a chef dictating the recipe and adjusting the salt grain by grain.

Beyond the definition, there are a few signs that can help you self-assess if you are a micromanager:

  1. So busy! A hallmark sign you've veered into micromanagement is your calendar's transformation into a mosaic of check-ins, updates, and internal meetings, leaving scant room for your own strategic responsibilities. This relentless oversight, often mistaken for diligence, stifles creativity and autonomy among your team, showing little trust you have in them. In contrast, authentic leadership involves trusting your team's ability to complete their tasks, providing guidance when necessary, and space for independent problem-solving and innovation.

  2. What shall we do?? if your team hesitates to make decisions without your explicit approval or when you are absent, that’s a good sign you are a micromanagement boss. This symptom hampers the flow of work and, most importantly, also erodes team confidence and kills creativity. The antidote: empowerment! Fostering an environment where team members feel confident in their decision-making capabilities will allow you to accelerate workflow and, at the same time, to cultivate a culture of accountability and growth.

  3. Let me tell you what I think… In the micromanagement universe, feedback often flows unidirectionally—from you to your team, focusing narrowly on what you perceive as shortcomings. And if healthy feedback is a cornerstone of growth, micromanagers take it to a suffocating extreme. When you unilaterally bombard your team with constant, often unnecessary, feedback on even the most basic tasks, you suffocate insights that could enlighten areas of improvement for all, including you. If you think you have this tendency, try to organize a meeting where you are the only one to listen – with intent.

  4. No, you’re not disturbing. You are on a beach, on your holiday, and your phone keeps ringing because people from the office call you to report, ask questions, and update… and you are not bothered. Quite the contrary, you are pleased and feel everything is going well. If you fit this description, yes, you could be a micromanager. You can’t allow yourself to stop working because you fear that the team will make some mistake or that they cannot make it without you. If you want to try something different, try to relax, enjoy the time off, and let your team work autonomously. They will make mistakes – like you would do – making them grow professionally and boosting motivation.

  5. Do this, then this, this, and that. Micromanagers tend to give super-detailed instructions, like the manual of a delicate machinery. Every step and process are specified, with no margin of error, because every action is right or wrong (by their standards). The first effect on your team is the disappearance of initiative and creativity. The second effect is a drop in motivation because they lose focus on the purpose of what they are doing. If you find yourself acting this way, try to explain the goal to achieve, leaving the team to decide how to do it.

Micromanagement is often rooted in a well-meaning desire for control and a fear of failure. However, as I have exposed here, the long-term consequences are far more damaging. Recognizing these signs is the first step toward self-awareness. The second step is to act and move in the direction of transformative leadership, even if it means getting out of the comfort zone.

The journey from micromanagement to empowering leadership is paved with trust, delegation, and a steadfast commitment to personal and collective growth.

Drop me an email if you want to talk about it.


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