Even a Good Coach May Have to Micromanage


I try not to use micromanagement tactics in my leadership style but recently one of my employees has become a bad performer, and my coaching tactics don’t seem to be making a difference.  How do I handle this without being seen as a micromanager?


In the world of business leadership, there is always a fear of being labeled as a micromanager.  Micromanaging vs. Coaching notes that “when micromanaging is used as a coaching or leadership style it will most likely deliver bad results, stifle creativity, limit employees’ self-worth, and without a doubt limit productivity. On the other hand, when a coach or leader must deal with a bad performer, it is imperative to help the employee either become a better performer or help them find a job that is a better fit. Leaders should strive to be a coach who when necessary, uses micromanaging activities to improve specific areas, but uses coaching skills when getting the team ready to win.”

On the outside, coaching and micromanaging tactics look very similar. The difference is found in the purpose of these activities. Micromanaging is a tactic of coaching; it is not a leadership style. Micromanaging should be used with employees that are not meeting expectations or are bad performers. A bad performer does not necessarily mean a bad employee (and definitely does not mean a bad person). There are many employees that are not performing well because they are in the wrong job, not because they are bad people, or they are not doing what they are passionate about in general. As a result, the employee has no desire to be successful. By micromanaging such an employee, it allows the leader and the employee to make the best decision of what action should be taken next.

However, a leader should not have to implement a micromanagement plan for an employee for more than 90 days and can be stopped in as little as 30 days depending on the level of involvement, improvement and accountability, as well as overall attitude and commitment of the employee. The desired outcome should be to either help the employee become a better performer in their current position or help them find a role that is a better fit.

It’s important to remember that micromanagement is a tactic, not a style. When you have a poor performing employee, implement a performance plan of daily and weekly activities and micromanage those activities to help them move up in performance or out of the position that does not fit them. You owe it to them as their leader and coach.


Get your Training and Development program off to the right start by asking Strategic HR to help. We have the expertise to conduct a Needs Assessment and/or to recommend training options for your staff. Visit our Training and Development page to learn how we can help you train your employees efficiently and thoroughly.