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You love the fact that this manager is always on top of everything that is going on in his team but is he actually micro-managing and creating risks to psychological safety for himself, his team and your business? Did you know that micro-managing is associated with a number of the psychosocial hazards in Safe Work Australia’s “Model code for managing psychosocial hazards at work”? 

So what is micro-management?

Essentially, micro-management happens when an employee is subjected to excessive scrutiny, overly constant supervision, and an intrusive level of management involvement in the performance of their work.

Often, the manager might not realise that they are micro managing – they might think that  they are just  ensuring productivity and quality or being available to help but they are inadvertently sending a message to the employee that they don’t trust them to do it themselves.  This can be extremely detrimental to both the professional and personal well-being of employees.

How does micro-management affect people?

When employees feel constantly monitored and questioned, it creates an environment of suspicion and unease. That erodes trust which is a foundational element of any healthy work relationship and, in turn, that leads to decreased morale and engagement among team members.

Employees may become hesitant to take initiatives or make decisions, fearing constant scrutiny and potential criticism. They can be reluctant to put their hands up to take on additional tasks or responsibilities if they believe that that will result in potentially more scrutiny and exposure to criticism.

That can also lead to people feeling pressured and anxious which can result in them experiencing increased stress and burnout.

That is why micro-management is associated with psychosocial hazards.

What does micro-management look like?

The truth is that different people need different levels of supervision and different people want different levels of supervision – and those needs and wants don’t always align. 

So it can look different for different people.

A common trap is to adopt the same approach with everyone doing similar roles or within a team – for example, if one person is consistently getting things right and has proven that they know their stuff, do they require the same level of supervision as someone who is less experienced or lower performing? And what message are you sending them if you do apply the same level of supervision?

Sometimes, there are supervision standards that have to be applied from a governance perspective eg in medical settings or government services or the like. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to have the same process or conversation with each employee – you should be able to tailor it to the needs of both the individual and the organisation.

Moving from managing to coaching

 Gallup tells us that we will get the best results in productivity and employee wellbeing if managers become coaches for their people and especially if strengths and wellbeing are part of the conversation.

Gallup encourages regular check-ins with people by their manager/coach but that isn’t micro-management if the focus is on supporting the employee in being successful in their work rather than checking up on what they have been doing or unnecessarily requiring your sign-off on the work that they have done.

They can simply be conversations about how things are going like we have in our EngageMentality coaching model where we essentially ask four questions:

  1. What’s gone well?  
  2. What’s not going to plan?
  3. What’s new?
  4. What are we going to do about all of that?

Then you work together on the plan  with the manager/coach’s input being what is needed for the particular employee in the particular circumstances – no more and no less.


Micro-management is bad for business, bad for people and risky when it comes to psychosocial hazards. It is also far from enjoyable for managers who have the misfortune to be doing it and creates real risks of burnout for them.

So, as the saying goes, “let’s work smarter not harder” because micro-management is hard on everyone. 

If you would like to explore our EngageMentality process or any other of our PosWork programs for your workplace, please call us on 1300 108 488 or email



A Division of Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
ABN : 24 091 644 094

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

1300 108 488