What is the Difference Between Micromanaging & Empowering?

    It can be a fine line, and a very easy trap for managers to fall into. Leaders can feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders, including making sure teams hit their goals. Sometimes it seems easier to just do it yourself or provide step-by-step instructions for every little task and check in to make sure they’re doing things ‘right’.

    This ‘helping’ is actually micromanaging, and it’s not the job of a modern leader. Micromanagement is horribly common but having your boss constantly leaning over you destroys motivation and erodes trust. One person having to sign everything off can hold up work and push deadlines too. As well as doing your work, leaders need to learn how to empower and effectively engage employees.

    survey reveals that, “79% of people experienced micromanagement, and 69% said they had considered quitting. Moreover, 36% actually did quit.”Command and control were how businesses were built. The few made the decisions for the many. Times have changed, however, and new generations are not accepting of micro-management techniques where managers have all the power. The challenge is that humans crave autonomy and control. Leaders must fight their own biases and the law of least effort to release their innate desire to be in control, to allow their teams the flexibility and freedom to make decisions. A proven way to improve and manage your workforce is through learning how to stop micromanagement and how to empower employees.

    Micromanaging vs. Empowering

    There’s a difference between inspiring people and forcing people to follow your lead. Some micromanagement examples:


    • Monitoring and controlling every little detail of an employee’s working process.
    • Seeing things as their way or the highway.
    • Not being open to insights or opinions.
    • Never seeming happy with what their team produces.
    • Never challenging the status quo.

    Micromanaging is a difficult habit to break. A leader might not even notice it about themselves. Whether it stems from trust issues, perfectionism, or extreme pressure from their own managers, every leader must learn how to stop micromanagement. To employees, it simply indicates a lack of respect, trust, and confidence in their abilities.


    Learning how to empower employees, on the other hand, is the greatest strategy in retaining and getting the most out of top talent. Empowerment is about creating a culture where people feel valued and inspired to take on more responsibility; where employees have the clarity, autonomy, and authority to do their work. Your job as a leader is not to babysit; it’s to equip people with the tools and training they need to succeed, and coach them to grow their skills.

    The focus should be on encouraging the accountability and creativity of employees. So, The Empowerment Shift is a method for leaders to transform their mindset and learn how to stop micromanagement and how to empower employees to take on more responsibility. “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you,” vs., “I need you to send me regular status updates so I can see it’s being done properly.”

    Which would make you feel inspired, and which would just feel demoralizing?

    What is the Difference Between Micromanaging & Empowering? | Blog | DX Learning Solutions

    Effects of Micromanaging vs. Empowering

    Micromanaging is about control, and that’s not the basis of a successful leadership strategy.

    Micromanaging vs. empowering:

    Effects of Micromanagement

    Effects of Empowerment

    • A toxic and stagnant workplace
    • Teams are dependent on one person to make decisions and be productive
    •  More effective use of the whole team’s time and effort
    • Employees whose passion and ability to creatively problem-solve is limited by fear
    • Decisions made closer to the source to empower employees
    • Improved employee productivity and performance
    • Boosted employee engagement, improved morale, fewer absences
    • Festering employee resentment towards controlling leaders
    • Enhanced accountability among team members and increased trust between leaders and employees
    • Top talent chased away.
    • Stronger, more diverse teams and a sense of belonging and loyalty among employees.

    How to Stop Micromanaging and Start Empowering

    “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.” - Simon Sinek

    Learning how to stop micromanaging and how to empower employees requires a great deal of self-reflection, self-awareness, time, patience, and effort. Try to incorporate the actions below to empower and have a more positive impact on your team:

    Counter Hard-Wired Biases with Asking vs Telling

    This is also known as The Law of Least Effort. Everyone wants to do things efficiently and take the path of least resistance. So, practice embracing vulnerability and relinquishing some control. Remain open to other points of view and don’t be rigidly attached to your own. Spend less time talking and more time asking and listening. Speak last and constantly challenge the status quo. Appreciate the journey you’re on, see problems as opportunities to learn, and make that learning a shared experience by asking others about how they feel and think along the way.

    Show That You Trust Your Employees Through Delegation

    You hired these great people for a reason, so trust their knowledge and skills and provide them with autonomy and the chance to do a job their own way. This will improve accountability, give them the ability to make meaningful decisions, and foster a sense of responsibility amongst teams.

    Be a Coach

    Focus on long-term growth of employees and departments. Empowerment means assigning work that develops their skills, so they can make decisions, manage their own schedules and come to the leader just when they need help or support. Coach them on how to prioritize, and ask questions designed to help them solve their own problems, so leaders won’t need to worry about having to intervene.

    Encourage Idea and Knowledge Sharing

    Learn how to empower employees by involving them in task meetings, decision-making processes, and by asking for feedback in how to improve processes. Employees who don’t feel safe or aren’t given the chance to express their ideas or opinions won’t feel creative or motivated. You don’t want employees who just show up because they must; you want employees who can’t wait to get to their desks to share ideas and innovate.

    Appreciate Their Work and Allow for Failure

    Take the focus off punishment and avoid a toxic culture by focusing on triggering growth mindsets. Recognition makes employees feel valued, acknowledged, and respected. It inspires loyalty, provides real satisfaction, and will become the basis for mentoring and performance reviews. If dream outcomes aren’t achieved, ask questions that help you understand what was missing. Support? Training?

    Empowerment is a key driver of engagement. Find out more about The Empowerment Shift to teach your leaders how to stop micromanaging, and how to think, feel and act as high-performing coaches who get the very best out of their teams.

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