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Transforming Micromanagement into Effective Control: A Guide for Leaders

Hello, I'm Kate, the Head of Recruitment and People Teams at GT. With 15 years of experience in recruitment, 12 of which are in the IT industry, I've spent the last 6 years managing teams and helping businesses achieve their goals. Recently, I've been enhancing my skills in self-management, team leadership, and achieving results.

I strongly believe that a motivated team can drive positive outcomes for a business through effective management.

Have you often heard from your subordinates, colleagues, or candidates during interviews that they don't like working with micromanagers? They dislike it when a manager controls their work too closely. But is control the same as micromanagement? What's the difference between them? And how can you transform micromanagement into effective control? Let's figure it out.

First, let's clarify the concepts.

🔎 Micromanagement

Micromanagement involves unexpected monitoring of task execution, as well as making corrections and adjustments to tasks on the go without prior discussion. In other words, micromanagement occurs when task execution is monitored spontaneously, unexpectedly, and without prior agreement on specific timing and format.

This approach typically includes:

  • Unexpected control or its periodicity

  • Lack of trust in employees' abilities to perform their tasks

  • Loss of motivation for the person given the task

  • Lack of autonomy and opportunity to be creative

  • Absence of psychological safety

🗂️ Control

On the other hand, control is pre-agreed monitoring of work execution. It occurs when you have discussed in advance how, when, and in what format the work will be checked.

Effective control is characterized by:

  • Constructive communication

  • Clear agreements on the format, timing, and frequency of task checks

  • Trust in the employee

  • Achieving goals within a specified time frame

  • Psychological safety

Examples to Illustrate the Difference

For instance, you assign a task to an employee to describe a new process and incorporate it into a procedure. You've discussed what the result of the work should be and agreed to meet twice a week on specific days and times to discuss the results and make adjustments if needed. These are control points.

However, if you unexpectedly decide to check on the progress of the work and ask for an interim result a few days before the agreed time, and also keep making unagreed-upon changes to the procedure description, that's micromanagement. Because the person didn't expect that a specific part of the work should be ready at that time, it causes mistrust and stress.

If you need to have control points more often than previously agreed, it's essential to communicate this and explain why such type and frequency of control are necessary for completing this task.

Validation Questions for Managers

If you're unsure whether your approach to working with employees falls under control or micromanagement, you can ask yourself some validation questions:

  1. Do we have an agreed time to meet for interim control?

  2. Have we agreed on the control format - verbally in meetings, or in writing in a document?

  3. Have we discussed what exactly needs to be done by a certain time?

  4. If I need control points more often than previously agreed, has this been communicated to the employee?

  5. Was there an explanation why such type and frequency of control are necessary for completing this task?

💁‍♀️ If your answers are affirmative, congratulations! You have good communication and control points in place.

By understanding the difference between micromanagement and effective control, and applying these principles, you can create a more trusting, motivated, and productive work environment.


Kateryna Miroshnikova

Head of Recruitment and People Teams at GT


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