Team Accountability: How to Manage Without Micromanaging

The other day, Larry got loose.

(If you’re not familiar with Larry, get acquainted! She’s our beloved office Frenchie who belongs to our CEO and founder, Owen Franklin.)

When Larry got loose, panic ensued – understandably. The thing about Larry is she’s a French bulldog, so her tiny, loaf-shaped body is essentially made for nothing except ‘being adored.’ It isn’t made for withstanding 80-degree heat or for traversing long distances. And it certainly isn’t made for facing the big, wide world all on her own.

So, when she pulled her Houdini and ran down the street, it made sense for Owen and his wife, Tiffany, to panic.

Thankfully this story has a happy ending – Tiffany took to the streets on foot and Owen hopped in his car and cruised until they found her. Larry was exhausted and relieved to be back home, and her nerve-wracked parents were quick to outfit all exits with tighter security.


Larry gps collar

And, of course, to outfit Larry with a GPS collar.

When I first saw Larry sporting her bulky new accessory, I admit I thought it might be overkill. But Larry’s okay with it, Owen and Tiffany are happy, and now she’ll always be safe.

Of course, it did raise the question: how much monitoring is too much monitoring?

When it comes to Larry, there’s no such thing. But when it comes to your employees… Well. Managing employees is different than managing Larry.



Effects of Micromanaging Employees

Micromanaging has a reputation for being akin to a four-letter word, but why does micromanaging have such a negative connotation?

Here are six of the most common side effects to micromanaging employees.

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Increased stress

According to Dr. John D. Quick, co-author of Preventative Stress Management in Organizations, micromanaging takes heavy tolls on employees’ health including but not limited to chronic stress.

Think of how it feels to have someone constantly breathing down your neck: it’s difficult to get work done, and more difficult to relax. Micromanaging your employees by constantly checking in, telling them how to do their work, and monitoring their activity is a surefire way to skyrocket stress in your team which, in turn, tanks productivity.

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Low morale

The book My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide provides some uncomfortable truths about micromanaging, specifically that a whopping 85% of the micromanaged workers surveyed said being micromanaged was negatively impacting their morale.

And what does low morale mean for your organization? It means unhappy employees which leads to lower productivity, higher turnover, and poor teamwork.

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Lack of confidence

It’s hard to have confidence when your boss shows you time and time again how little you’re trusted. Low confidence in the workplace can adversely affect culture, morale, and even ROI.

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Decreased productivity

Those whose quality of work or work ethic is constantly questioned or controlled reportedly find it difficult to keep up productivity.

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Higher turnover

We’ve all heard the adage ‘people quit bosses, not jobs.’ It turns out this may be truer than we’re ready to accept: a Gallup study revealed that 50% of Americans have left a job to “get away from their manager at some point in their career.”  Among the top complaints from those disgruntled employees? Micromanaging.

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Low innovation

If your management style is to implement a rigid methodology and force others to follow it, you’re actively stifling creativity. This prevents your team from exercising their own unique processes and ways of working, which slashes innovation down to almost nothing.

And innovation is essential to a successful organization.

Dennis Stauffer, innovation researcher and author, says of innovation, “When those founders who scored highest on the Innovativeness Index were compared to those who scored the lowest, then ventures of the high scorers averaged 34 times as much profit, 70 times as much revenue, and employed 10 times as many people.”



How to Manage Without Micromanaging

At Blue Summit Supplies, we’re a small office with a sometimes difficult-to-define hierarchy. However, those who manage take a relatively hands-off approach to managing their teams.

The result?

We’ve embraced a fail-forward, supportive, creative culture, and our company is growing every day. That isn’t to say we don’t make our fair share of mistakes; we do, regularly. But that’s part of building something, and a facet of our culture inspired by one of Owen’s personal heroes, Ray Dalio.


“Everyone fails. Anyone you see succeeding is only succeeding at the things you’re paying attention to." - Ray Dalio”


Here are some methods we use to keep from micromanaging.


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Give goals, not methods

Instead of telling your employees howto do their work, give them objectives and let them reach them independently. This is a way to foster innovation, creativity, and, yes, even happiness!

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Maintain some distance from your team – as in, physical distance.

We know you love your team, and we know you want to make sure they’re doing everything just right. However, being a constant presence can increase anxiety which can in turn lead to lowered productivity and more mistakes. Trust your team and give them space.

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Communicate expectations clearly (not tasks)

Instead of telling your team how to work, tell them what you expect done. It’s good to delegate tasks sometimes, but what’s better is communicating an overall expectation and a framework for how to meet it. Let your employees prove themselves.

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Communicate with your team – ask them what they need, and listen!

A key part of being a great manager is listening. Oftentimes workers don’t come to their employers with grievances or issues unless directly asked. Make time to hear your employees and acknowledge your needs. The way we do this is through monthly feedback memos, where each of us is given the opportunity to send Owen, our CEO, what’s working, what’s not working, and what other comments we have. If you implement something similar, make sure to actually read and reply to each one.

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Accept the inevitability of failure

No success comes without its failures. If you’re managing a team, you’ll have to get comfortable with failure. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t strive for success; rather, embrace a fail-forward attitude. Know that sometimes, your team will fail, and have plans in place to turn each failure into a learning opportunity. In other words, make sure they don’t repeat the same mistake twice while also ensuring they know they’re allowed to make well-intentioned mistakes.

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Facilitate, don’t dictate

This one is self-explanatory: help your team reach their goals instead of taking the wheel and yanking them forward. A good leader is someone who instills confidence in their team without stifling them. Make sure to give your team ‘room to breathe’ while still providing the support and help they need.


Do you have tips for how to avoid micromanaging? Maybe you’ve experienced a micromanaging boss – how do you handle it? We want to know! Let us know in a comment below, or find us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. And, as always, if you have questions or concerns, send us an email– Larry loves to hear from you!


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Grace Treutel is Blue Summit Supplies' Director of Culture. Currently she’s in training to become a Marriage & Family Therapist though her greatest love will always be the written word. Her three novel manuscripts have not yet been published - but just you wait. She lives in Huntsville with her  cute kids and cute pets.

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