Encourage leaders to let go to develop higher-performing teams

Many managers find it hard to let go of control. They fear that adverse events will happen if they are not present, or that work won’t get done. This fear leads to micromanagement of staff and tasks. And micromanagement does not build an autonomous, highly motivated team.

Without autonomy – the freedom to make their own decisions about how to do their jobs – people are more likely to be dissatisfied at work. This leads to higher employee turnover. In fact, a study by TINYpulse found that the best employees are 28% more likely to leave when they are micromanaged.

Isn’t it time that your values included building a culture in which autonomous thinking is a part of your organization’s DNA?

The fallout of micromanagement

Higher employee turnover is not the only damage caused by micromanagement. Micromanaged teams often suffer from:

  • Decreased productivity, caused by the employees’ fears of doing things wrong and the time ‘wasted’ by managers who are constantly providing input and disrupting workflow
  • A reduction in creative thinking, with employees feeling that their ideas are criticized or ignored. People working in this atmosphere are scared to take any risks, and the manager is often pulled in to sort out ‘problems’ that the employees could solve themselves
  • Low morale and decreased motivation, as employees feel suffocated by a manager who is constantly looking over their shoulder

Ultimately, a culture of micromanagement develops a workplace devoid of trust, in which the manager is seen as an authoritarian, and people lack enthusiasm and energy to perform to their full potential.

Motivate your team with autonomy, mastery, and purpose

In his book ‘Drive’, Daniel Pink describes the three factors that motivate employees and teams better than any carrot and stick leadership: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.


For micromanagers, this is, perhaps, the hardest value to embed in their sphere of control. Giving autonomy to employees allows them to make their own work-related decisions. It is the ultimate act of letting go, and is difficult for leaders stuck in the traditional management mode of control and compliance.

The secret here is to provide parameters for staff to work within, and allow self-direction within these guides.


Managers who can let go of the reins they hold around their team will benefit from employees who are motivated to develop their skills and talents. Instead of micromanaging, managers must learn to:

  • Role model self-development, motivating employees to do the same
  • Recognize and reward behaviors that align with the value of self-development
  • Coach rather than control, becoming a mentor to their team

Creating a culture in which mastery of work practices is not only encouraged but aided will lead to higher-performing teams who are more capable of innovation and creative solution finding.


Doing meaningful work – a job with a purpose – is ‘consistently and overwhelmingly ranked by employees as one of the most important factors driving job satisfaction,’ according to a survey of 67,000 employees conducted by Energage.

Similarly, Deloitte’s report ‘Culture of Purpose – Building business confidence, driving growth’ found that 91% of executives who believed their organization to have a strong sense of purpose reported it had a history of strong financial performance.

Having values and a mission to which your employees can connect drives purpose, which in turn drives motivation and job satisfaction, boosting performance and productivity.

To embed purpose within your organization:

  • Identify your core values and ask employees what they mean
  • Recompose your mission to align with your organization’s values
  • Communicate your purpose, connecting it to your values and your mission

In summary

To ensure that your organization doesn’t suffer from the fallout of micromanagement, it is essential that your leaders and managers can let go. By defining operating parameters, managers will be able to deliver the autonomy that drives job satisfaction and motivation.

To capitalize on this greater autonomy, employees should be encouraged to develop mastery of their work. Managers will need to inspire and coach their people, as well as demonstrating self-development as an expected trait.

Finally, ensure that your people connect to the organization’s value and mission by developing a sense of purpose with meaningful work.

To learn more about developing effective leadership skills in your managers and leaders, connect with Primeast today.

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