Businesswoman Pointing

Micromanagement is the tendency to exert unnecessary degrees of control over another person’s daily tasks, work load, or time.

What Does It Mean to Micromanage?

Micromanagement is commonly used to refer to excessively controlling managers. A boss might, for example, refuse to allow an employee any independence or autonomy, require excessive progress reports, or attempt to exert control over an employee’s communications or time management. However, micromanagement can occur in any situation in which a person has a degree of control over another person’s behavior or tasks.

Examples of micromanagement include:

  • A parent taking an unnecessary degree of control over a child’s school work by refusing to allow a child to do homework alone, requesting excessive contact with a child’s teacher, or putting unnecessary constraints on a child’s time. Parents who micromanage their children are sometimes called helicopter parents because of their tendency to hover.
  • A therapist attempting to control a client’s life by telling him or her who to talk to, what to say, and how to spend his or her time.
  • A spouse attempting to control his or her partner’s work, hobbies, social activities, or other life activities.

Why Do People Micromanage?

People who micromanage others tend to be highly controlling. These controlling tendencies are often the product of insecurity. However, they can also be a result of false beliefs about effective management techniques or modeling. For example, a supervisor might micromanage his or her employees because he or she believes this is the best way to ensure work gets done or because his or her supervisor also micromanages.

What Are the Effects of Micromanagement?

Micromanagement is generally an ineffective management style. In some cases, people may need micromanagement when they have shown they cannot handle their own problems. A child who is failing a class might need intensive parental intervention, but when this intervention goes on too long, it can destroy autonomy. People who are micromanaged may experience low self-esteem, difficulty managing their own time without oversight, or difficulty completing tasks. Because micromanagement often requires more accountability and more communication than is necessary to complete a task, it can also make work move more slowly.


  1. Micromanagement is mismanagement. (n.d.). National Federation of Independent Businesses. Retrieved from http://www.nfib.com/business-resources/business-resources-item?cmsid=31587
  2. Skolnik, D. (2012, February 21). Stop being a micromanaging mom. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/21/living/parenting-micromanaging-mom/index.html

Last Updated: 08-11-2015

  • Leave a Comment
  • Susan

    July 4th, 2015 at 4:22 AM

    I believe in looking into all facets of a person. I thought perhaps other possibilities one might be controlling is the responsibility of their employment which might or not be considered a dangerous field. Law Enforcement, residing in an area of high criminal activity, Military, or maybe a tough mother who will stop at nothing to keep her children safe. It just seems to me that there are a abundance of reasons as well as the wealth of other societies and lifestyles to limit the use “controlling” as a negative.Perhaps we all have certain responsibilities, “God given strengths” perhaps. As for me, putting folks into ” boxes” just seems crappy.

  • Maria

    August 29th, 2022 at 9:21 AM

    I work for a retailer. We have a comanager that micromanaged to the detriment of the managers, supervisors and employees below her. It seems to be out of fear, insecurity and that shes in a position of power. She destroys morale and is always threatening to discipline. It’s not a pleasant work environment. Shes terrorized the same store for years.

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