Two Types of People Who Need Micromanagement

By: Guest | June 12, 2012 | 

Today’s guest post is written by Monica Wofford

Micromanagement: The act of tediously following up with those you lead to make sure they get the job done.

High performers hate it when you micromanage them, but there are two other types of employees who need it.

If not, they’ll fail and take your team down with them. Even with these two types, micromanagement is best doled out in moderation and for a finite period of time.

In Contagious Leadership, I discuss this extensively. Your style of management should either lead you to satisfaction with that employee’s performance or to the decision to “free them up” for new opportunities to grow…elsewhere. 

Employees Who Need Micromanagement 


On day one of a new job, questions from, “Where are the restrooms?” to “Where do we eat?” can seem frivolous, but are a vital part of the dipping in the DNA that needs to occur.

Leaders should follow up closely with the new employee ensuring a solid foundation and direction, along with feedback. For the potential high performer, this period of close monitoring should be short. Give them assignments, schedule follow-ups, and provide detailed feedback as quickly as possible.

Don’t leave them to figure it out, even if they ask. This is how bad habits develop quickly. Once they’re formed, it can be hard to change them much like a cruise ship that takes off destined for a specific locale: One or two degrees off-course will lead that boat somewhere else.

Once that happens, cruise ships don’t whip on their blinker and make a u-turn in the middle of the ocean. If you detect the off- course early on when it is still minor, you can quickly correct it, saving the time and effort to turn the whole boat around.


When there’s trouble in paradise and you ignore it, it gets worse and it spreads.

It’s your responsibility as the leader to protect the team’s results from the one “bad apple” or “weak link” that could destroy all outcomes from their efforts. Micromanaging a problem employee means re-visiting the basics.

Share your expectations as quickly as your employee deviates. Clarify the rewards and expectations for performance, and restate what you want from them and what will happen if they continue to choose not to deliver.

Much as you do with the newbies, go back to a shorter time period between “touch base” meetings and follow-up. You might consider this tedious, but the goal is to get this team member back on track as soon as you see the off-course behavior. They may not be new to the team, but addressing the problem when it is new is imperative to effective leadership. Otherwise, the potential exists that a blinker and entire team and tugboat will be impacted.

It takes time and effort to micromanage employees. However, if performance improvement is what you’re after, it’s worth the investment of time. Without it, you’ll be spending far more time later on in doing damage control.

It’s likely your leadership schedule is already tight. Spend the time now and consider it an investment in future results that could provide a big payoff.

What would you add? I’d love to hear from you.

Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development expert who works with companies and teams worldwide developing leaders whose employees stay longer, complain less, and produce more. She is also the author of the recently released Make Difficult People Disappear (Wiley, 2012) and may be reached on online at @monicawofford or by visiting ContagiousCompanies.

  • Pingback: Micromanagement: Awful tactic for leaders of PR firms — unless these two types of people need it | Immersive Consultants()

  • Great points, Monica. I know a lot of people might scoff at the thought of being micromanaged, but I suspect more people appreciate it than they let on! Personally, I appreciate being micromanaged when I first come onto a job. I want to do the best I can in the new position, and I appreciate the gentle direction and reminders that my employers are looking out for me, whether it’s just to answer mundane questions about the office or to answer important questions relating directly to the work. Addressing problems immediately and head-on is just plain old good management, too! 

    • MonicaWofford

       Hello Anne! You’re spot on my friend! Well said and if you can see my response to @TheJackB some of what you refer to as the logisitcs of what you need to know as a new person are exactly what I’m talking about there. New people tend not to think micromanagement is about a lack of trust, but more about an investment of respect and expectation of long term involvement by you in the organization. In fact, if they didn’t care if you stuck around, they likely wouldn’t take the time to show you the ropes! And if that’s the case, then a copy of MakeDifficultPeopleDisappear might be one of your best secret weapons! hehe! Thanks for the comment and the insight!

      •  @MonicaWofford  @TheJackB Agreed! I find that I’m much, much happier when I take that mindset than when I assume that it’s coming from a place where trust is an issue. Thanks for the great post! 

        • MonicaWofford

           Well said! My pleasure and thanks for the great comments!

  • I understand the rationale but I am not a fan of it in most situations. There is a learning curve for everyone but you should have some level of trust in employees. 
    They sense it when you don’t and you can kill morale and productivity that way.
    Isn’t there a middle ground here?

    • MonicaWofford

       There is a middle ground.. and often that trust takes time to develop. At the same time, new employees have vital information about logistics and the culture that they need in a hurry in order to become and remain most effective, without having to unlearn certain things. Those who benefit from micromanagement that have a bit of tenure are likely those who weren’t given the information they needed to succeed in the beginning (often provided through what I am referring to as “micromanagement”. Does that help clarify? I enjoy your take on things and good question. 🙂

  • I think there’s a big difference between micromanaging and intensive training.  I detest Micromanaging and went from being the #1 sales person at a company to quitting and starting my own when the new ‘layer’ they added that believed it was their reason to exist.

    • MonicaWofford

       Hello Amy, that “new layer” you referred to likely didn’t understand the purpose or type of individual best suited to micromanagement. It sounds like you may have been micromanaged when you were neither a newbie nor a challenge and kudos to you for recognizing your own level of skills and venturing out on your own! Great job!

      • KiraMBates

        @MonicaWofford @AmyMccTobin Personally, I hate the word micromanage and tend to use it only in a negative context. But, I also think that there are certain jobs and company cultures where micromanaging is a) not possible due to time and resource constraints and b) if needed, suggests more of a hiring oversight. While everyone starting out needs mentoring, constructive feesback, and guidance – we are all adults and an employee who is complacent and needs reminding to complete a simple task is not going to be the go getter who will thrive at a small PR agency. Of course, there are exceptions but that has been my experience thus far.

        • MonicaWofford

           @KiraMBates  @MonicaWofford  @AmyMccTobin
           Hello Kira! You make several valid points and certainly micromanagement is not for everyone, I agree. In a small firm, the time and resources to micromanage a team member is a real concern and while it can at times be due to a hiring oversight, it is necessary conceptually in the beginning stages of employment as you mention and might simply apply in your case, if an employee has a rough patch or temporary state of less than motivated performance. Micromanagement is not an “ever present”, “all the time” type of behavior. 🙂

  • I think you absolutely need to follow up more often and closely watch others’ work when you’re managing newbies or people who are having problems. But, you have to know when micromanaging is no longer warranted, or if you’re doing it to the point to where you’re hindering the person you’re managing from growing and getting his/her work done.

    •  @Nikki Little What you said. #thatisall

    • MonicaWofford

       @Nikki Little
       You are absolutely spot on Nikki and well said. It’s the fine line that exists between developing and hovering that an effective leader must pay attention to and sometimes the location of that line is different for each different newbie or challenge. Nice job! 🙂

      •  @MonicaWofford This post is very timely for me, as I’ve recently moved into the role of managing my agency’s social media team and our growth, so appreciate the insight. 🙂

        • MonicaWofford

           @Nikki Little
           Congrats on the new role and great timing indeed. There is a book I wrote some years ago that my be a valuable resource for you if you need one. It’s called Contagious Leadership and in it there is an entire chapter on this micromanagement concept. Just an idea and keep up the great work! Amazing how we now all have social media “departments” when just a few short years ago, we would have all said “social WHAT?” Hehe! M

        •  @MonicaWofford Good to know, thanks! Yes, it is amazing how things have changed. I came to my agency (Identity) about 2.5 years ago when the SM team had just started, and now we’re at 4 people and primed to grow again soon. 🙂

  • mehedi0412

    Nice article about micro management.

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