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Micro-Management is the Opposite of Autonomy


One of the biggest mistakes a team leader can make is micro-managing their direct reports.  Micro-management stems from the leader’s lack of TRUST that the employee can do the job without close supervision. Micro-management sounds like:

  • “All decisions must come through me… follow the process without deviation”
  • “I need to see your work before you finalize it”
  • “I want to see a daily report of the progress you’re making on that job”

The result of micro-management can be devastating to a company’s performance:

  • It leads to demotivated employees who go through the motions of the job because they know their manager is going to criticize their approach or have them re-do it “their way”
  • Productivity decreases because employees wait for their manager to tell them what to do
  • Opportunities are missed or challenges become more costly because the employee doesn’t get the information they need, or they are not empowered to make decisions on their own
  • Often, it leads to a high rate of turnover

The basis of micro-management is a lack of TRUST. The supervisor doesn’t TRUST the employee to do the job to their level of expectation.  It’s the supervisor who is responsible for coaching and training their employees so that they can do the job they were hired for. If the employee can’t do it, then rather than tightening the controls, the decision needs to be made to re-train or to find a better fit for the role.

Autonomy sounds like:

  • “You know your job better than I do; I TRUST you to do what you think is best”
  • “You were hired because we believe you are smart, experienced and know how to get the job done so make the decisions you think necessary to do it the best it can be done”
  • “You don’t need to check in with me because I TRUST you and know you’ll make good decisions”

The result of giving the right amount of autonomy to employees includes:

  • Empowering employees to be creative problem-solvers and to identify and address issues sooner rather than later
  • The development of a TRUST between leadership and their teams, which leads to open and honest communication
  • A stronger bench of future leaders.

With Autonomy, not only are employees more productive, but supervisors have time to focus on their job whether that’s coaching, analyzing the business or business planning. Typically, employees can be autonomous when leadership TRUSTs that they can do the job.

TRUST is the foundation of all great and productive relationships.

We hire the best people we can find to do a job that needs to get done at a certain level. We need to provide them with the tools, skills and training to do just that. When a leader TRUSTS a person to do the job they were hired to do by allowing them a level of autonomy, they typically have productive, engaged and successful teams.

TRUST is the foundation of all great organizations. Click here to receive a short guide entitled “The TRUST Success Model” to see how you can create a TRUSTing environment that can transform your team and increase engagement, productivity, and profitability.

Ken Sher

Ken Sher is an Career Coach and Executive Coach who focuses on the whole person when helping them with professional or personal issues they are trying to manage. Ken's areas of expertise include job search, career management and leadership development. If you would like to reach out to Ken, please call him at (215) 262-0528 or visit his web site at