Why We Micromanage

Wouldn't we trust our people to do the job we hired them for?

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Theodore Roosevelt once said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

While working in construction, I delegated the rebuild of a bathroom to one of our guys. In my mind, it would take a certain amount of time, money, and effort to complete the job.

When the job took longer than expected, and went over budget, I stepped in. I laid down the law. I meddled.


Why do we step into situations we’ve delegated to someone else? Why do we micromanage?

We want success. We want performance. Our key goal is organizational performance.

Wouldn’t we then trust our people to do the job we’ve hired them for?

We micromanage for 3 reasons.

1. We know the right way to do something.

We want performance, and from our vantage point, how someone is getting to an outcome will not actually lead to high performance. They are doing it all wrong.

Think of the TV show The Office. Michael Scott always has the right way to do it.

2. We’re insecure.

We’re afraid their “negative” performance will reflect badly upon us.

Insecurity, in a weird twist, can also mean we micromanage because we’re afraid their excellent performance will mean they’re promoted ahead of us.

Fight insecurity.

3. We don’t trust our employees.

At the end of the day, we don’t trust someone else to do a job to our standard.

Unfortunately, by micromanaging, we remove trust within employees. The lack of trust cycles back and forth until one day we decide we need to fire the good people we’ve hired.

“They didn’t do their job” we say.

Of course they didn’t. We kept stepping in to micromanage their performance.

Learn to put good trust in the good people you have.

It is ironic how in our campaign to secure high performance we undermine the very performance we set out to achieve.

If we want performance, we must learn to lead, coach, and release our employees to succeed.

Do you micromanage? Do you see any of these traits in your leadership?

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