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Avoid One of the Worst Enemies of Remote Work: Micromanagement

By Daniel Sanchez Reina | July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

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Remote work is the new normal for many. Leaders who sense a lack of control due to their lack of employee interaction may micromanage their teams, leading to reduced engagement, poor motivation and low productivity.


Micromanagement is defined as excessive control and attention to details. But, what does “excessive” mean? When is a leader/manager exerting excessive control and attention to details?  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow Diagram” states that people are more productive and happier when they are in the state of complete concentration, in the so-called “Flow Channel.”1 He set out a model to represent the emotional state someone can be in while undertaking a task. The flow channel is reached by constantly balancing two axes, challenge level and skill level:
The intensity of managerial supervision in the Boredom region and in the Flow Channel needs to be very low because the employee is capable of doing the job with a high degree of autonomy. In this case, setting the expectations about the outcome of the work is enough. When the leader surpasses that limit and exerts unnecessary or excessive control on how the work has to be carried out, the leader is micromanaging. This can push employees to disengagement and demotivation, hence low productivity.
In the Anxiety region, a higher level of supervision is required in order to help the employee move toward the Flow Channel. Supervision must facilitate that alignment. There is also a risk of micromanaging in this region, although tolerance to control and attention to details is higher.


Are you prone to micromanaging your remote teams? Do you behave as a micromanager with them? Ask yourself these questions:
  • Do you often have concerns or question (outspokenly or silently) employees’ productivity?
  • Do you find yourself constantly seeking to be included in the loop and wanting to be informed of every bit of progress made?
  • Do you peek into systems records to check that someone actually did what you asked?
  • Do you find yourself limiting decisions and authority to yourself in order to maintain engagement with the effort?
  • Do you find it difficult to delegate tasks because of a lack of trust that they will get done?
Then ask yourself: Would you feel badly if your boss did the same to you?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you may be described as a micromanager.


In the following graphic you can see the terrible effects of micromanagement in your team members:


I am not interested in a psychoanalytic study on the different causes of micromanagement. No matter which is yours, the interesting and useful exercise is to ensure that you put in place the right actions to avoid micromanaging.
Find here below a summary of those actions:
If you want to find detailed information on how to put in place each of those actions,  see Gartner’s document “Avoid One of the Worst Enemies of Remote Work: Micromanagement”.
Related post: if you wish to expand your knowledge on how to lead a hybrid remote team, you can visit this post: Create a Successful Culture of Hybrid Remote Work in Times of Crisis 
May wisdom and courage be with you.
Daniel Sanchez-Reina
— I will be looking forward to talking to you. Feel free to schedule an inquiry call (, follow me on Twitter (@DanielSnchezRna) or connect with me on LinkedIn.


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