The line between managing and micromanaging can be a fine one. Both hands-on managers and micromanagers closely manage work and systems. However, hands-on managers know where to draw the line, keeping a close eye on employees without senselessly interfering. Hands-on management benefits employees and the organization as a whole because hands-on managers build a work force that is empowered and well trained. Micromanagement hurts morale and profitability because a micromanaged staff has no leeway to develop creative solutions to challenges.


Micromanagers interfere with productivity. They may get in the way of workers' capacities to finish projects, double-checking work that is already well done and demanding worker accountability about tasks that should need no explanation. In contrast, hands-on managers facilitate productivity by offering support and providing a big picture perspective that individual employees may not have. They understand the flow of workplace tasks, and they keep things moving by problem solving and making insightful suggestions rather than spending time on minutiae.


Hands-on managers improve employee morale. They encourage workers to perform well and they delegate responsibilities that are both challenging and achievable. Employees enjoy working for hands-on managers, who show engagement without getting in the way. In contrast, employees who work for micromanagers often feel powerless to make suggestions or act autonomously because they are accustomed to being corrected, even when they perform well. A micromanager feels as if she must do the work herself if it is to be done right, leaving employees feeling frustrated and disempowered.


It is easy to communicate with a hands-on manager, who usually wants to hear your opinion and will generally be open to improving his own managerial style. In contrast, a micromanager who doesn't trust an employee to perform a job effectively will also likely be unwilling or unable to listen to that employee's feedback about something as personal as managerial style. A hands-on manager wants to hear what you have to say because he genuinely wants to do a job well, rather than simply wanting to do it his own way.


Both hands-on managers and the employees who work for them are committed to learning and interested in improving their own performance as well as that of their employees. They are interested in building a broadly shared knowledge base that is beneficial to the entire company. In contrast, micromanagers are more concerned with control than with performance. They do not have sufficient perspective to step back and learn from mistakes or to let employees learn from their own missteps.