Sidestepping Micromanagement: How to Follow Up Without Being a Pest

Micromanaging-stackIf you’ve attained a management position, then you’ve certainly learned that you must delegate some or most of your work, to avoid being overwhelmed by your responsibilities. No single manager can do everything he or she is ultimately responsible for. Having responsibility for something doesn’t mean it’s your job per se—you just need to make sure it’s done.

Take Merck’s Roger Perlmutter. He’s in charge of the R&D Division that manufactures new drugs. He doesn’t invent the drugs. But he makes sure they are invented by people who focus on nothing else. His job is to cut out the fat that slows their production. When he took his position in 2012, he dismissed a surprising number of micromanaging bureaucrats who were slowing the R&D process by their insistence that the researchers go through the chain of command for permission to do every little thing.

This is not to say that you can just dump and forget a task. That’s called abdication, not delegation. No matter who performs a particular task in your team, department, or division, you’re still ultimately responsible for it. So how do you follow up on it to make sure they’re progressing appropriately and going in the right direction, without crossing that fine line into micromanagement? Here’s how to give your people permission to own their jobs and execute on the spot as necessary, without bogging them down with endless surveillance or paperwork:

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Laura Stack

Laura Stack

Laura Stack is America's premier expert in personal productivity. For over 20 years, her speeches and seminars have helped professionals, leaders, teams, and organizations improve output, execute efficiently, and save time at work. She's the author or coauthor of 10 books, most recently, What to Do When There's Too Much to Do. To invite Laura to speak at your next meeting or register for her free weekly newsletter, visit

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