“People leave managers, not companies”

wrote Marcus Buckingham, in his book First, Break All the Rules.

In my work as a facilitator, people often share with me that one of the primary reasons they are fed up at work is because they are being micromanaged.

Are You Damaging Your Environment?

Micromanagement is toxic.

It sucks the life from your working environment, leaving people drained of energy and motivation. People feel paralysed. Micromanagement discourages individuals from thinking for themselves, making decisions, or taking responsibility.

It stifles creativity.

Many managers feel the need to “be in control”.

  • Experience, “I know how best to do this”
  • Inexperience, “I’m not sure I know how to do this and I better not get it wrong”
  • New in role, “I need to know what everyone does”

… all reasons cited for micromanagement. Yet, micromanage at your peril. Be aware of the potential damage to the performance, productivity and overall wellbeing of your team.

Recognising that you tend to micromanage is a great place to start. Once you are aware, you can develop new habits and shift unhelpful behaviour.

So, what can you do to build trust and learn to let go of control?

3 Ways to Build Trust

Here are three principles to consider:

  1. Clarity: Be clear about what you want to achieve and learn to focus on outcomes.
  2. Capability: Know your team, their talents and motivations.
  3. Growth: Focus your effort on supporting your team learn and grow. Allow them to manage the detail.


Get clear about your outcomes.

As a team define what it is you want to achieve and visualise success.

What does success look, sound and feel like?

Decide how will progress be measured?

As a team, meet regularly to share progress and celebrate success. This is your opportunity to sense and respond to what is emerging in the here and now. Discuss any adjustments needed to sustain progress or maybe update your outcome. Agree any support required to assist with performance.


Get to know your team as individuals.

What are their skills, talents and experience?

What are their passions and interests?

Appreciate diversity. Your team are not you! They think differently and approach their role differently. This is ok! It doesn’t mean their way is wrong, just different. Give yourself time to listen and appreciate their ideas and approach.

Think about how can you harness their knowledge, strengths and experience.

On appreciating the capabilities of your team, agree together how to allocate roles to achieve your outcomes.

As a team have an explicit conversation about how you want to engage with one another.

What will enable each of your team to perform at their best?

What do they want from you as leader?

Are there any gaps and development needs? If so, how can these be fulfilled?


This your opportunity to lead by example and create a learning environment. Here is a list of daily habits to help you reduce the need for control.

  • Ask, rather than tell.
  • Appreciate team members for their specific contributions.
  • Share lessons, not blame.
  • Be congruent, do what you say you are going to do.
  • Live your values.
  • Give authority.
  • Offer support, and be ok if it’s turned down.
  • Delegate.


Self awareness is key if you are to be an effective leader of a high performing team. Be open to feedback and developing new habits, to change unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

Set your intention to experiment with ideas suggested here, choose how you will build trust and let go of control.

As a helpful reminder you can download your guide to Building Trust in Teams here.


Karen Mason is on a mission to cultivate healthy workplace cultures, where people matter.

Karen is known for her passion and expertise in leadership development and team coaching. The impact of which has a positive influence on team wellbeing and productivity.


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