Micromanaged and stressed worker looking at her laptop.
Hybrid work
Getting started

Micro vs. macro management: focus on two different leadership types


December 6, 2022


March 8, 2024

Nobody likes to be controlled, no in their personal or professional lives. It's no surprise that micromanaging negatively impacts employees' morale and performance. Although giving more autonomy and empowering your team is the way to go, it requires balance. Learning more about micro vs. macro management helps us understand these two contrasting supervising methods. What is the difference between micro and macro leadership? What are the pros and cons of each of these management strategies? How do you find the right balance to drive your workforce successfully? While working models become more flexible and people-focused, management practices also need to evolve and adapt to the trends of the future of work. With 56% of US employees quitting their job because of their boss1, working on your management style is fundamental. 

Micro vs. macro management: definitions

Definition of micromanagement

Do you ask your employees to inform you about every action they take? Do you need to validate every step of each operation your team is working on? Do you spend more time monitoring your staff than focusing on the big picture and finding solutions to reach goals? Micromanagers can’t help but over-control what their coworkers are doing.

This “helicopter” leadership can sometimes be helpful for short-term or challenging projects that require a straightforward structure. But, as we highlight in our articles about employee burnout and toxic work culture, micromanaging is not a leadership style that benefits workers or companies. Eventually, it has a negative impact. In the next few paragraphs we will cover the benefits and drawbacks of micromanagement.

👋 Do you want to know how to optimize space and costs with a flexible office? Learn how you can save up to 30% with these cost-cutting ideas!

Meaning of macro management

Macro managers adopt a different style that tends to be the opposite of micromanagement. They empower their team members by sharing goals while also letting them figure out how to successfully achieve it. The objective of macro leaders is to support their coworkers without controlling every detail of their work. Macro management is established on trust and autonomy. The focus is on the outcome more than on the steps between.

In terms of best management practices, a more flexible approach aligns better with today’s employees’ expectations. As with micromanagement, we will also discuss the perks and downsides of this type of leadership. But, when observing that future of work trends are based on more flexibility and employee-centricity, macro supervision is undoubtedly part of the modern ways of working.

The difference between micro and macro leadership: the impact on employees' morale

The impact of micromanaging on your team

Positive impact: micro leadership can… Negative impact: micro leadership can…
help handle challenging short-term situations destroy creative and innovative skills
reassure people lacking self-confidence and needing more structure give employees the feeling they are neither trusted nor valued
create frustration
make team members lose confidence in themselves and their abilities
increase bore out and burnout
reduce engagement and productivity
make individuals lose time on reporting instead of working on their tasks
increase turnover

Micromanagement doesn’t have positive consequences for workers or the organization. Quite the opposite. This leadership style keeps people from thriving and developing their skill set. It is like putting a (desk) bird in a cage. Instead of getting better at flying, your team members end up losing their core skills and start working on auto mode. Although success without failure is a myth, micromanaging doesn’t leave room for trying new things or making mistakes.

However, knowing what your workforce’s needs are is fundamental. Even if most employees favor macro management, some actually feel reassured by checking in with their supervisor before taking an action. But again, as a leader, over-controlling every detail is not be the best way to help them grow personally and professionally.

👋 Start a free trial of the deskbird app to discover the benefits of workspace booking and week planning for your flexible workforce!

The advantages and disadvantages of a macro management style

Pros: macro management helps… Cons: macro supervision can…
foster employees' empowerment be more difficult to apply for young managers
give staff more autonomy create issues for short-term goals
boost skills and self-development make employees feel abandoned if they are not well-balanced
reinforce trust between managers and team members
enhance creativity, innovation, and solution-oriented behaviors
match the values of remote and hybrid work models
increase workers' engagement and motivation
increase efficiency

Macro management benefits people and, consequently, the company in many ways. Managers can focus on the bigger picture instead of wasting time excessively supervising their team members. Employees can make the most of their skills, think outside the box, handle their tasks and schedule according to their needs. Not only does it show trust, but it also provides them with the autonomy they are asking for. Moreover, macro bosses help boost and motivate workers by allowing them to challenge themselves and keep the passion for their role alive.

However, this leadership style also has to be balanced, as employees shouldn’t feel left alone. To avoid ending up with a team that is lost, supervisors have to have clear goals. They need to make sure everyone knows their role and responsibilities. Again, the key is to support your workforce, encourage them to find solutions by themselves, and let them fail without over-controlling them.

👋 Do you want to learn more about deskbird? Discover the advantages of a user-friendly desk booking app: click, click, that’s it!

A balanced leadership style: the key to managing hybrid teams successfully

Micromanaging doesn’t fulfill workers' expectations

To better understand what people expect from their boss, we recommend you read our article about employees' expectations. As highlighted in that post, workers seek professional development (re-skilling, up-skilling, and career growth), autonomy, flexibility, purpose, transparency, and accountability. 

Unfortunately, micromanagers provide very little (or even the opposite) of these key aspects, negatively impacting employees’ satisfaction and morale. Unless your team members like to be micromanaged, which is rarely the case, this management style usually leads to two consequences. Either people quit. Or they stay, but their mental health is strongly affected, resulting in low performance and often burnout.

Micromanaging is clearly the wrong approach if you want to create a positive work environment, foster employee centricity, and improve employee happiness.

A manager explaining a concept to his coworker.
A manager explaining a concept to his coworker.

Macro management needs to be adjusted according to your team profile

Do you want to encourage your employees to grow and challenge their abilities? Do you enjoy having your coworkers point of view and knowing that the next big idea could come from the creative minds of your team? Are you looking for methods to foster engagement and productivity? Then macro management is your best shot. However, like any successful strategy, you must first find out what your staff expects from you. 

As mentioned, some people need structure to perform well. In that case, the goal is to support them without falling into micromanagement. As sharing constructive feedback with your employees is key to making them grow, asking your team members how you can assist them best and what they need from you is equally important.

The ideal balance is to give people the autonomy they require and simultaneously be present without over-controlling. There is no magic trick, but the information in the next paragraph can help you.

👉 How do you manage your workspace with a flexible workforce? Check out our hybrid office calculator to discover how to optimize space and save costs!

two people looking at desktop computer
Manager guiding co-worker

The key ingredients of successful leadership are communication, organization, and employee centricity

Macro leaders have to focus on three fundamental aspects: 

  1. They must adopt a transparent and straightforward communication strategy.
  2. They should have a spotless organization to enable smoother collaboration among their workforce. 
  3. They should always prioritize an employee-centric approach

This last recommendation is crucial. Each business is unique, and all individuals have distinct needs. Understanding what your team members expect regarding management and which practices can help them thrive within different business structures, such as a corporation, sole proprietorship, or an LLC, is essential to be a great leader. You can discuss it in one-to-one sessions or through different means, such as feedback forms or employee satisfaction questionnaires

Happy manager and coworker collaborating together.
Happy manager and coworker collaborating together.

Knowing how to support your coworkers is even more critical if you are among the many companies that have embraced hybrid work over the last couple of years. Managing remote employees can be challenging. On one hand, it can quickly increase micromanaging behaviors. On the other hand, macro-managed teams can feel disconnected and isolated if their supervisor doesn’t promote collaboration. The difference between micro and macro leadership is quite extensive. Still, although a macro approach is more suitable for employees, it has to be balanced. Now that you can compare all the upsides and downsides of micro vs. macro management, you are fully equipped to improve your management style. 

Do you foster work flexibility and employee empowerment? Request a free demo of the deskbird app to discover how desk booking software can help you answer your hybrid workers’ needs.

1) According to the 2022 Survey about Great Resignation conducted by FlexJobs. For more info read also The Great Resignation: Why successful people quit their job.

Micro vs. macro management: focus on two different leadership types

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

Read more