A few of my direct reports have made reference to feeling micromanaged. I work in the banking industry and have a somewhat different structure in that half my team, including my 2ic, am in another city some distance away. I visit once a month, but I am always remotely managing a team. We are also in an environment where metrics are used extensively.

I have tried asking them individually what I am doing that makes them feel this way, but they are having trouble (or aren't willing) to be specific.

I am thinking of asking them to arrange a meeting among themselves and discuss 3 things they would like me to stop doing, 3 things they would like me to start doing and 3 things they would like me to keep doing. I will then meet with them to discuss.

I realize they need to be satisfied this exercise will not be punitive to them in any way, and that I truly do want their feedback. I do.

There is a history here of a team that was demoralized, basically not managed, and had the worst performance of any unit in our group. They are now a top performing team and morale appears to be good and they are proud of what we as a team has accomplished.

I am looking for feedback on this approach or any alternative approaches that might work.

quenfis's picture

Runner, have you checked out this article here on MT? [url]

I do believe that some are confused on what micromanaging really is. This was a good article. I think, and this is brought up a lot on the forums, you should definitely begin O3's (one on one's) if you haven't already. Some of the issues the direct reports might have will come out in weekly One on One's. This may also be more effective that having them gather together, then trying to give you feedback. Chances are, you may never get the honest truth you are searching for from that form of a 360.

If you haven't listened to the MT Trinity podcasts (Feedback, One on One's and Coaching) now is the time. Or if you have listened, you may want to go back and review. I'm relatively new to the forums, but I have been religiously listening to the podcasts for quite a while. I think Micromanaging, or the misconception of what micromanaging really is, would make a great podcast.

tokyotony's picture

I've had the same feedback about myself before. Actually, I concluded that what I was doing wasn't really "micro", but it was the way I was communicating. My solution was to switch from telling them what to do to more of simply asking questions so that they could draw there own conclusions.

Runner, maybe you aren't micromanaging, but instead, they may not be feeling empowered.

Just a guess from my experience.


juliahhavener's picture
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It seems to me that you're dealing with a group that has previously been burned for speaking their minds. O3s will help with this a great deal. If a relationship is built, they have a basis of honesty and trust and WILL open up.

I agree that you must get down to behaviors: what behaviors do they perceive as micromanagement? what behaviors do they want/need from you? what behaviors and/or perceptions can you change? From the sound of it (which obviously in this forum we do not have all the information), you're making a concerted effort to be involved in the daily work and careers of your directs. For some, that feels suffocating - like they're being micromanaged. When your behavior remains consistent, open, and fosters communication, they will realize that 1) you are involved, 2) you're going to say involved and 3) THEY ultimately benefit the most from this arrangement.

Change is always difficult. I would encourage you not to give up. Ask for feedback, demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow, offer feedback, relate, relate, relate. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

cowie165's picture

[quote="tokyotony"]...what I was doing wasn't really "micro", but it was the way I was communicating. My solution was to switch from telling them what to do to more of simply asking questions so that they could draw there own conclusions...

Such a great point Tony. I'm with you.

Here's a quote from another thread that could be relevant for you Runner. (

Fair is fair, so here is what I said. "If you tell someone what to do and how to do it, you are bossing them. If you tell them what to do and give them some general ideas about how to do it but leave they details to them, you are giving them direction. If you tell people what needs doing and provide an environment to help them do it, that is providing leadership. And if you help people understand what it is they collectively want to become, that is providing them vision."

Mark's picture
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My apologies for my delay.

Don't change a thing. They are over-reacting. It will work itself out.

Again, I regret my absence.