By Eric Dickmann

February 27, 2023

Empowerment, Micromanagement

The battle is between micromanagement and empowerment. Micromanagement is no longer effective, while empowerment is gaining popularity. Managers must shift from bossing around to empowering their people. Empowered employees are more engaged and invested in business success. To achieve optimal results, the organizational culture should promote shared accountability, not excessive management control.

What is Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is to control every part of a business or activity. It is excessive authority and attention to detail. A micromanager observes and controls everything an employee does. It often comes from a lack of trust or feeling that “they know best.” It’s the opposite of empowerment and autonomy.

Often times, micromanagement stems from a lack of trust. It may have rooted in past experiences. Other times, a manager may feel the employee is incapable. That he cannot work alone to achieve the desired outcome. It may be due to a lack of training or differences of opinion on the desired outcome. In the worst cases, it’s the result of ego. There’s a feeling that one person is superior and that other ideas or ways of working are inferior to their own.

Micromanagers are characterized by their desire to have complete control over every aspect of a project, task or team. Some attributes of a micromanager may include:

  • Lack of Trust: Micromanagers may not trust their employees or team members to handle tasks or make decisions independently.
  • Need for Control: They want to be involved in every decision and may not delegate tasks to others.
  • Obsession with Details: Micromanagers may obsess over small details and require updates on every aspect of a project or task.
  • Inability to Delegate: They may struggle to delegate tasks or responsibilities to others, even when it would be more efficient.
  • Lack of Communication: Micromanagers may fail to communicate expectations or provide clear guidelines, leaving employees feeling confused and unsure.
  • Perfectionism: Micromanagers may have an unrealistic expectation of perfection and be critical of any mistakes or errors.
  • Lack of Autonomy: Micromanagers may not allow their employees to work independently or make decisions on their own.
  • Constant Monitoring: They may constantly monitor employees' progress and require frequent updates, causing stress and burnout.

In summary, micromanagers can be detrimental to team morale, creativity, and productivity, and it is important for leaders to avoid micromanaging and instead focus on empowering their employees and promoting a positive work culture.

Signs of a Micromanager

What is Empowerment?

The Balance Career defined empowerment as enabling an individual to control work. It is authorizing them to make decisions about how to perform their work. It helps them discover their true potentials and be accountable for their actions. Empowerment is trust and a reliance on the skills and abilities of an employee to complete their work as expected.

Employees who can make job decisions can solve problems better. They can move faster from task to task because they don’t need to wait for a manager’s direction or approval. Likewise, they feel more trusted, which in turn, boosts their morale.

Empowerment in the workplace refers to giving employees the autonomy, resources, and support they need to take ownership of their work and make decisions that contribute to the success of the organization. Some attributes of empowerment in the workplace include:

  • Trust: Empowerment requires trust between management and employees. Leaders who empower their employees trust them to make the right decisions and take ownership of their work.
  • Autonomy: Empowered employees are given the autonomy to make decisions about their work without constant oversight or micromanagement.
  • Support: Empowerment also requires providing employees with the resources and support they need to be successful, such as training, coaching, and access to tools and technology.
  • Accountability: Empowered employees are held accountable for their work and results, which helps to create a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  • Communication: Effective communication is crucial to empowerment. Leaders must communicate expectations clearly, provide feedback and recognition, and be open to feedback from employees.
  • Collaboration: Empowerment also involves collaboration among team members. Leaders who promote collaboration and teamwork can create a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for success.
  • Growth: Empowered employees are encouraged to grow and develop in their roles, with opportunities for learning, skill-building, and career advancement.

In summary, empowerment in the workplace can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity among employees, while also contributing to the success of the organization as a whole.

Micromanagement Versus Empowerment

A business needs control because every decision comes with some risk, but managers also need to trust employees. They need to make them feel valued at work if they hope to create a thriving organizational culture. Let's compare styles to understand the impact of micromanage versus empowerment:

  • Impact on Organizational Culture - Trust is essential to organizational culture. Micromanagement kills ownership and promotes a lack of trust. In contrast, empowerment cultivates a culture of trust. It energizes initiative within a company’s culture.
  • Impact on People - Control is imperative when a leader needs to deal with poor performance. Watching and directing an individual can help improve their performance. But that should be a short-term problem. If employees can’t perform at a level needed to give them autonomy, they might not be a fit for the company. Empowerment has a positive impact on motivation, and motivation leads to better performance.
  • Impact on Process - There are times when it makes sense to get involved with processes. Micromanage critical tasks to ensure things go according to plan. Sometimes, serious issues arise which need a hands-on approach by managers. Employees making their own decisions can optimize the way they perform their jobs. They create more efficient processes. Empowerment fosters initiative and innovation.
  • Impact on Product - A micromanager has clear-cut ideas on the best way to create a product or service. It can exclude other employees from contributing ideas and stifle innovation. Employee independence increases creativity and results in a more innovative collaboration of ideas.
  • Impact on Profit - Scrutiny and close examination of a subordinate’s work is costly. Micromanagement means that managers are focusing their efforts on someone else’s job. Managers should seek to remove obstacles to employee productivity, not create them. Increased employee turnover also affects the profit of a business. When employees feel micromanaged, it hurts their engagement. There’s a likelihood that they will become dissatisfied and leave the company.

How Can Employers Become Great Motivators

Whether you notice it or not, employers are not only seen as leaders or implementers; they are looked up to in the workplace as role models. Being a role model is more than basic task distribution and simple words of motivation, it is guiding by example. Recognizing that your team members are at different stages of their career and have varying learning curves is the first step in becoming a great example. Along with this recognition, you should able to consistently help them reach their goals b y reminding them of their purpose and providing each with the tools that they would be needing moving forward. Investing in your team is the greatest investment you can make for your company! Inc shares some tips to effectively motivate your employees:

  • Incentivize your employees- Who wouldn’t want a good incentive? Remember, that not all incentives have to be in the form of cash or check. Simple things such as paid and vacation leaves or tokens of gratitude for every accomplished project would do.
  • Set smaller and attainable weekly goals- There are many employers who give a month’s worth of work for a 5-day work week. To motivate your employees to work better and also ensure quality of the given tasks, give them attainable tasks along with weekly standards. Setting  your standards lessen the margin of error and saves time in rechecking and revisions.
  • Learn what makes employees tick- Try to connect with your employees individually. Some workers get motivated by a compliment, some are objective-driven, and quite a few prefer the monetary incentives. Do what you can to build a bond of trust and cooperation between you and each team member. Remember, a  happy employee equates to a motivated tea m, while a motivated team can lead to increased productivity, therefore leading to higher gains.
  • Prioritize work-life balance- The most common issue why employees quit their jobs is because of an inconsistent work-life balance. Learn how to respect their off days and give the team enough time to unwind and breathe. Do not pressure them to work beyond their work hours. Your team’s physical and mental health should be your utmost priority.
  • Let them lead and promote freedom of expression- At some point, you would need to choose employees who you can pass the leadership role to. As early as possible, teach your employees how to lead small projects and teams. Give them the responsibility to handle projects without your full supervision. Allow them to give input on your company’s plans. There are times that their suggestions are really the answers you are looking for.
  • Show them the bigger picture- While you are confident that they are working excellently with their routine tasks, it is also essential for you to explain to them why they should perform tasks and how it impacts the company as a whole. If your company is working on a long-term project, show them your vision and illustrate the expected results and expectations. It always feels nice to be working for a cause!

What Motivates Employees Today?


In today’s organizations, empowered employees can give companies an edge. Management control is still needed, but hiring good people and letting them do their jobs is important. It builds a thriving organizational culture. Leaders can have strong ideas and opinions. They set the direction of the organization, but their efforts are best focused on strategy. Make sure to empower employees in executing strategic plans. Hiring the right people and trust them to do their jobs. It will allow for scale that’s not possible when leaders feel the need to micromanage.

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Eric Dickmann

About the author

Eric Dickmann is the Founder / CMO of The Five Echelon Group, host of the weekly podcast "The Virtual CMO" and YouTube series "Work-Life" and a fractional CMO for a variety of small and midsize companies. An executive leader with over 30 years of experience in marketing, product development, and digital transformation, he has worked with large, global companies and small startups to develop and execute marketing strategies to bring innovative products to the market.

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