How to stop micromanaging your helper


You hired a helper to make your life easier and better. Over managing them often leads to low morale and poor performance. If you have a tendency to micromanage others, what should you do? How can you keep it under control?

Recognize that micro-management is a strength! The tendency to micromanage others flows out of a heart that cares about how things are done. A micromanager is usually someone with a high commitment to excellence and precision; someone who believes there is a right and wrong way to do things. They want to make sure things are done well and in a proper way. That's a strength, but it has a dark side to it as well.

The dark side to micromanaging is perfectionism, domination and bullying.  No one is just like you. You are unique and special. When you try to force someone to do things exactly the same way you would do them, it can lead to emotional domination and bullying. When the person doesn't perform the way you wish, it may lead to berating and belittling them. 

How do you keep the tendency to micromanage from crossing the line into perfectionism, domination and bullying?

 First, give yourself a pat on the back. Acknowledge that you do things well, with great attention to detail. You care about how things are done and the quality of the final outcome. God made you this way. Be thankful. 

Secondly realize that you are unique and so is your helper. If she doesn't care about details with the same intensity that you do, it might be because she is not like you. She will never be able to do some things as well as you do them (and you will never be able to do some things as well as she does).

Don't insist that she gets an A+ on the tasks you assign her. Settle for a B or a B-. When I was learning Cantonese, one of my professors at CU, Mrs. Ng, worked with me after class for long periods of time to help me pronounce the Chinese sounds and tones like "ngoh" (I, me). She would make me repeat the word over and over, tell me where to position my tongue and make me do it again. Her goal was NOT that I would speak like a native, but that I would at least be understandable to a native.  Have reasonable goals for your helper. The goal should be "good enough!" NOT "as good as I could do it". 

Finally, encourage your helper for both the effort she makes and the progress she makes. Even if the progress is small, you can still compliment her on the effort. If she is really trying but only hears "M dak, M dak", then she will decide that no matter what she does, she will never be able to please you, AND she will stop trying. 

A tendency to micro-manage is NOT a bad thing, it is born out of a commitment to quality and a desire to do things with excellence. As you manage your employees, I hope you can communicate your passion for excellence without falling into the traps of perfectionism, domination or bullying. 


(the principles shared in this article were learned from a webinar on 

Allan SmithComment