Micromanagement, Delegation & Coaching

Many great leaders have been trained to avoid being the ‘M’ word: micromanager.

The truth is the best leaders don’t avoid micromanaging at all. This management style can be used to great advantage in the right situations. The key is knowing how and when to apply it, and that’s what we will explore today.

We suggest that instead of choosing one leadership style for all, tailoring your approach at the individual level results in better outcomes for everyone.

Let’s dive in!


Is Micromanagement a Bad Word?

Micromanagement has gained a bad reputation as a management style. And let’s face it; any manager who’s constantly breathing down your neck won’t be the most popular person on the team—but that’s just one aspect of micromanagement, i.e., the one you notice most if it’s not executed correctly. When done this way, it can be smothering, toxic, and may negatively impact employee performance.

It’s precisely the above kind of manager we envision when we hear “micromanagement.” That kind of micromanager is more concerned with poking their nose into anybody’s business but their own and often neglects their own tasks in favor of critiquing someone else’s work.

But micromanagement isn’t always a bad thing. Done right, it can increase performance and support employees in establishing high standards. For example, when new systems or technology are being implemented, micromanagement can be applied to achieve measurable outcomes and ensure compliance with company policy.

Micromanagement can also be used during onboarding to ensure new employees have everything they need to do their job well. After all, high-functioning employees don’t just happen. Even the most talented people need direction, systems, and structure.

The bottom line is that there isn’t just one style of micromanagement, and there are certain situations and team members who may need it, either occasionally or on an ongoing basis. We apply management styles to achieve specific outcomes. Micromanagement is just one tool in the kit.


Helping New or Struggling Team Members Achieve Goals

We have come across the graph below a time or two and have always shared it with our clients as a tool to help them approach team management differently.

You’ll see micromanagement in the bottom left square. The assumption is that as the employee evolves, micromanagement transmutes into another management style.

Micromanagement, Delegation & Coaching

The orange square could be a new employee, an A-player in a new role, or any team member who requires coaching on new processes. As the individual’s skill sets improve, micromanagement becomes coaching. As their internal drive and understanding of the tasks advance, the management style becomes support, applied when needed.

Once the employee gains a high level of expertise and comfort with the task, they can delegate to others or have management delegate to them.

Identifying skills is more quantifiable. When we talk about internal drive, it’s about motivation. With the right skills and support, it’s assumed that the employee will be motivated to advance.

Should the employee be incapable of moving beyond the red square, it might be necessary to reconsider their position entirely. Micromanagement should not have to be a consistent effort as it serves neither party.


Enabling Your A-Players

Now that we understand how micromanagement can work for new employees, let’s talk about your A-players.

When bosses get involved in the day-to-day work of their top employees, it can be highly motivating. The challenge is knowing when to do it—and when to pull away.

When a manager can bring a unique perspective to a situation or expedite a project or task based on their input, micromanagement can be a positive experience. It can accelerate initiatives, reinforce the importance of organizational priorities, and change the stakes entirely when an important customer is involved. What employee wouldn’t want to move the needle a quantum leap forward if they had the opportunity?


Final Thoughts: Don’t Fear the Micromanager!

If the word “micromanagement” sparks your fight or flight response, we hope we’ve convinced you to give it a second look. Applied judiciously and in the right circumstances, micromanagement is an essential technique that provides employees with the skills, motivation, and confidence to step into their potential.

Equip your leaders with the tools they need to manage, coach and delegate. emPerform offers a complete performance management platform with the flexibility to tailor reviews, check-ins, feedback, and goal setting for different employee needs. Get started today.

The annual performance review has long been a staple of performance management in the business world. However, in today’s rapidly evolving workplace, providing employees with the feedback and support they need to improve and grow is no longer enough. In the latest Voices of HR podcast, “Why Annual Reviews Are Not Enough,” our expert, John Smith, explores the limitations of annual performance reviews and offers insights on how to make the evaluation process more effective. 

There are many reasons why annual performance reviews fall short in today’s workplace. Smith notes that these reviews are often seen as a “check-the-box” exercise, lack constructive feedback, and fail to provide employees with the ongoing support they need to improve their performance. As annual reviews are often too far apart to provide timely feedback, employees are left with outdated information that is of little use in enhancing their performance.  

To overcome these limitations, organizations are encouraged to adopt a more iterative approach to performance management. This involves providing employees with ongoing feedback and coaching rather than waiting for an annual review. By providing regular feedback, managers can help employees identify areas where they need to improve and provide support and guidance to help them achieve their goals.  

Recent studies have also shown that employees want to be more involved in their evaluation process. Giving employees a voice in their evaluation makes them more likely to be engaged in the process and take ownership of their development. This can be done by setting clear goals and objectives and involving them in regular check-ins and feedback sessions. By leveraging technology, organizations can ensure a more data-driven and objective approach to performance management, which can help to reduce bias and improve overall fairness across the organization. 

Creating a culture of continuous performance management requires a shift in mindset from both managers and employees. It involves creating a safe and open environment for feedback and coaching, where employees feel comfortable sharing their challenges and receiving constructive input to improve. By implementing a continuous performance management strategy supported by technology and a culture of open communication, organizations can help drive employee growth and development, improve organizational agility, and ultimately achieve better business outcomes. 

This podcast offers a thought-provoking perspective on why annual reviews are insufficient and why a more continuous approach to performance management is essential is a wake-up call for organizations. By adopting a culture of continuous performance management, organizations can support their employees’ growth and development, leading to increased engagement, job satisfaction, and organizational performance.  

Stream now! This podcast is now available from:

Apple Podcasts

Thank you to  HRMorning: Powered by SuccessFuel and Berta Aldrich for welcoming emPerform’s John Smith to present in your Voices of HR podcast!


Align, Develop & Retain Top Talent with emPerform 

emPerform includes the tools needed to identify and engage high-performing teams. With online reviews, year-round goal tracking, ongoing feedback, pulse surveys & complete merit & bonus management – you can create a performance program that drives engagement & results.  

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Giving feedback isn’t easy! However, it’s something managers must do to keep employees engaged and informed. Failing to provide feedback or allowing bias to creep into the process are equally concerning and may result in disengagement, loss of productivity, and cultural rifts. Today, we’ll discuss how to give feedback, outline the common struggles and risks of giving bad feedback, and discuss how managers can learn to deliver effective, honest, fair, and impactful feedback that motivates and drives results.


Tips on How to Give Fair and Impactful Feedback

Here are a few essential tips to consider when providing feedback.


1.     Provide feedback immediately

Giving feedback is an integral part of any professional relationship. It helps keep everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal. However, it’s also vital to ensure that your feedback is constructive and helpful, and that requires an immediate response. Waiting too long after the fact or allowing several issues to stack up over time can confuse and overwhelm. Immediate feedback helps prevent misunderstandings and relieves the frustration managers might feel around addressing an uncomfortable situation.


2.     Focus on the action, not the person

Focusing on the action or behavior—rather than the person—can be a difficult distinction to make, but it’s an important one. For example, if an employee makes a mistake, it’s easy to criticize in a way that makes the person feel like they are less than.

In personalizing your response, you put the individual on the defensive and make them feel bad about themselves. Instead, try to focus on the action. For example, you could say something like, “I noticed that you didn’t proof your work before turning it in. Next time, could you please take a few extra minutes to review your work before handing it in?” This kind of feedback is specific and objective. It doesn’t make the person feel bad about themselves, but it does encourage them to change their behavior in the future.


3.     Make the exchange mutual

Addressing the need to change can be difficult. Making the conversation a mutual endeavor is a way to achieve the results you want without causing undue stress to either party. Focus on why you need to have the conversation and what the impacts of the desired change will be. State your positive intentions in providing the feedback and connect it to the employee’s positive motivations.

For example, you know that your employee wants to be viewed as a capable and helpful part of the team. Perhaps you can express your concern that the person’s performance makes it difficult for others to see them in that light.

Keep in mind also that a mutual discussion requires some listening on your part. Perhaps you should lead by asking the individual to tell you their perspective. You may gain valuable insight into why the behavior happened in the first place—which might force you to adapt your response.


4.     There’s a time and place for feedback

Feedback is a critical part of any professional relationship. It allows us to assess our performance, identify areas for improvement, and build strong and productive partnerships. However, feedback also needs to be delivered in a way that is respectful, constructive, and founded on trust.

If you cannot offer feedback in the moment, choose your time and place carefully. Think about times when the individual will be most receptive to the exchange and try to avoid moments like just before a meeting or when they’re about to leave for the weekend. Context is critical if you want what you say to penetrate. If you require a more formal setting, do it early in the day at the start of the work week, so they have a chance to put your suggestions into action.


5.     Contextualize the problem

There are times when bias creeps into performance review scenarios and results in an unfair situation assessment. For example, you may have a female employee working from home, and you feel she is not collaborating adequately with her team. Ask yourself first how you feel about their work and contribution in general—and then think about whether you would think differently about the situation if she was in the office every day. It’s easy to disregard employees you don’t see all the time. Perhaps she needs to adapt her schedule to engage with in-office staff more. Don’t immediately assume the problem lies with her.

This is just one example, but it covers two types of bias: gender and proximity. It also shows how difficult bias can be to recognize. Other aspects of bias include racism, ageism, affinity bias (preference for people who are more like ourselves), and attribution bias (the misconception that women are less competent than men).

Contextualizing the problem before you give feedback means tying the issue to specific business goals without the influence of conscious or unconscious bias.


6.     Focus on the future

As a manager, one of your most important jobs is to elevate your employees. Actionable feedback is a way to accomplish this and will almost always improve performance. Feedback often focuses on events that happened in the past. While the core issue likely happened before your conversation took place, the future is where the change will happen—so that’s what you need to focus on.

Spend less time talking about the event itself than you do about the improvements you want to see. You can’t do much about what’s already happened, but you can shape how things move forward. With a positive outlook, a clear and actionable plan, and an honest, two-way dialogue, much can be accomplished.


Final Thoughts

When providing feedback, we should always be clear, direct, and specific. Above all, we must strive to be fair. To maximize the impact of feedback, managers must remain objective, be aware of hidden biases, and allow employees to provide their own perspectives. Feedback isn’t always easy to give, but we all improve with practice.

Tools to Help Managers Become Performance Coaches

emPerform is a complete performance management platform that includes an entire toolset designed to help align, develop, engage & retain valuable talent, including online reviews, ongoing feedback, coaching assistant tools, peer feedback and more.

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When done correctly and effectively, employee performance reviews and good performance management processes can motivate staff, drive results, align the entire company, and improve success and morale. However, inconsistent performance reviews that are confusing, subjective, and open to bias can throw a wrench into the entire thing – making the review process a negative and de-motivating exercise and leaving the company with untrustworthy data to use for decision-making. 

Performance calibration is a process where tools that collect quantitative metrics are set up and analyzed effectively to portray accurate performance data across the enterprise. In most companies, this quantitative data is collected using performance reviews. Performance calibration helps employees by providing consistent, clear, and realistic performance expectations and effective, unbiased feedback and scores across all groups. Performance calibration also allows companies to feel assured they can trust the performance data collected and lean on it to make decisions regarding the performance health of their talent.  

In this blog post, we will discuss the steps involved in calibrating employee performance reviews effectively so you can augment what you might already be doing and ensure you have consistency in your reviews. 

Step #1 of Calibration: Establishing a Baseline & Threshold for Performance & Expectations

The first step in calibrating employee performance is to establish a baseline of performance. This can be done by setting expectations for what you want employees to achieve and then measuring their actual performance against these goals. It is important to note that this process should not be rushed, as it will take time for your company and leaders to set clear and actionable goals and for employees to adapt to the new standards. 

Once you have a baseline of performance, the next step is to establish thresholds. Thresholds are the minimum acceptable levels of performance that must be met for employees to continue working at your company or for teams and the organization to operate successfully. Establishing thresholds can be difficult, as they may vary depending on the role or position within the company. However, it is important to have a clear understanding of what is expected from each employee to maintain productivity and avoid confusion. 

Step #2 of Calibration: Create a Plan for Monitoring Results

After you have set goals and established thresholds, the next step is to create a plan for collecting and monitoring performance results. This plan should include the steps that will be taken to ensure employees are meeting their goals and staying within the acceptable threshold levels. The plan should also outline how often employee performance will be reviewed and assessed and who will be responsible for conducting these reviews. Finally, a large portion of this plan is to establish and agree to acceptable forms of measurement or rating scales that will allow you to monitor the status of goals and performance without being de-motivating to staff. See also, rating scale guidebook

After the plan is set, regular touchpoints should be conducted to ensure employees are aware of how they are performing and for employees and evaluators to adjust any goals or thresholds as needed. It is important to note that employee performance management should not be a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process. By regularly measuring and calibrating employee performance, you can ensure that everyone in the company is working towards the same goal and meeting the same standards.

Step #3 of Calibration: Continuous Improvement

Once you have calibrated employee performance, it is important to continue to improve and refine the process. This can be done by setting new goals, establishing higher thresholds, or creating different plans for monitoring employee results. The goal is to make sure that employees are constantly challenged and striving to reach their fullest potential. 

Frequently Used Tools for Calibrating Employee Performance Reviews

There are a variety of tools that can be used to calibrate employee performance. The most common tool is the performance appraisal, which is a review of an employee’s job performance and typically takes place annually, with smaller checkpoints happening regularly throughout the year. Performance reviews should be crafted with content and tools to help avoid common appraisal biases that may result in performance reviews producing inaccurate results. It is useful for the company to decide on set goals, skills, or other performance criteria that will be used as a measure of performance, and invest in ensuring they are specific to each role, and defined clearly for employees.

While the most common tool for calibrating employee performance is the performance appraisal, it is important to note that this process should not be limited to this one method. There are a variety of tools that can be used to ensure all aspects of performance and output are being considered. 

360-degree assessments and peer feedback are also great tools for calibrating employee performance. With this type of multi-faceted input, employees receive additional feedback from peers, managers, and team members. This helps to get a more holistic view of employee performance and can help identify areas in which they need improvement. 

Finally, the nine-box is a tool that is often used to calibrate employee performance. This tool is used to assess employee potential relative to the company or a group and can help identify high-performing employees as well as those who may need additional development.

Through calibration, you can ensure that your employees are meeting the standards of your company and helping to achieve its goals and are also motivated to perform within realistic thresholds. By taking the time to establish a baseline, set thresholds, and create a plan for monitoring results, you can make sure that employee performance is accurately calibrated and everyone in the company is working towards the same goal. 

There is no question that performance management is changing, in fact, 84% of human resources professionals agree that the industry is rapidly altering its processes to suit current needs. With annual performance reviews and appraisals falling out of fashion, companies have begun to adapt by enabling more opportunities for open communication and providing regular feedback and coaching to their team members.

With these changing trends, it is vital for organizations to revisit how they assess, develop, and engage performance. According to a recent State of Performance Management Report, performance reviews and discussions are taking place remotely, and processes have become more digital and technology-oriented. With these changes in mind, organizations are stepping away from traditional and outdated processes, and transitioning to modernized and streamlined solutions.

Make a change for the better with emPerform. Our user-friendly, flexible & affordable standalone performance management solution contains the tools needed to automate all aspects of your performance management program. With our team of experts ready to guide you at every step, you can re-tool performance reviews and engage your entire workforce in ongoing & valuable and valuable performance discussions – from anywhere.

Watch the NEW tour video and explore the many tools and options available to you in emPerform for complete, automated & modern performance management.

Ready to make a change?

Contact us to see how we can help you transform performance management to better align, develop, engage & retain a world-class workforce.


9 Reasons You Should Be Using the Nine-Box: Download Your eBook

Is your company on the lookout for better ways to analyze performance and potential talent data?

Download Your Free eBook: 9 Reasons You Should Be Using the Nine-Box

Effective talent identification, succession planning, and development planning are challenging for many organizations. It involves analyzing a lot of data to make critical decisions that affect many individuals and the company’s future.

In this eBook, we explore the top nine reasons why your company and HR team can start using the nine-box as a powerful tool in effective talent identification, employee development planning and so much more.

Engage Employee Performance & Development Year-Round with emPerform!

Book a live demo to learn more about emPerform’s interactive nine-box talent matrix, included with our award-winning performance management software.

Book your live demo of emPerform.

Research shows that happy employees are 12% more productive in the workplace– and happy salespeople produce 37% greater sales. But how can you ensure that your employees are satisfied? The answer: through better performance management. Although performance management is a critical aspect of any organization, only 55% of employees feel that their company’s performance management processes are effective.

Most Employers Don’t Actively Track Employee Performance

Although performance management is a critical business process, most employers aren’t actively tracking their employee’s performance. Management may feel that it’s too difficult to track employee performance or may not have a system in place to help. There may not be an emphasis on performance management processes throughout the organization, or it may be considered the realm of higher level executives. Commonly, managers may rely upon their memory to conduct employee performance reviews, which can lead to an environment that feels biased and unfair.

Realistically, it’s harder for individuals to remember positive things rather than negative or critical things. When everything goes smoothly for an employee, a manager may not notice them at all. When an employee makes a mistake or is not meeting expectations in one area, it may have such significant consequences for a manager that the manager can’t help but remember. Tracking employee performance through an unstructured way exacerbates these issues, making it far more likely for an employee to be penalized for their mistakes and shortcomings than rewarded for their accomplishments.

The Importance of Effective Performance Management for Company Success

Effective performance management is critical because traditional performance reviews are flawed. Not only do employees often react negatively to performance reviews, but the reviews themselves may not lend any useful information.

  • 57% of organizations don’t do anything to remove bias from their reviews. It’s common knowledge that employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers. If an employee feels that management is biased against them, they are likely to leave, leading to poor employee retention.
  • Only 6% of organizations believe that their review process is effective. Businesses continue to engage in annual reviews because it is a standard component of the business process, rather than believing it is truly effective.
  • 62% of employees feel blindsided by performance reviews. With an emphasis on the negative, employees often feel as though a performance review indicates they can’t do anything correctly. These employees may become unmotivated or feel helpless. More transparent, continual communication may be needed to ensure that employees aren’t surprised by their performance reviews.
  • 57% of employees felt as though performance reviews pit them against other employees. Comparing employees to one another appeared to be a disheartening measure and one that was less likely to inspire employees and more likely to make them leave altogether. In fact, 37% of office workers reported they have looked for another job due to a performance review.
  • 70% of employers are currently looking to review or update their performance management solutions. Managers agree with employees: current performance review standards are often biased and lax. Managers also feel that performance reviews are a waste of time, which is why many companies are now looking to update and refine their performance management solutions.

Employees Are Motivated through Recognition

Existing performance management processes appear to stumble when they involve unhealthy levels of criticism or foster an environment of unhealthy competition. By slanting employee reviews and performance metrics in this way, employers fail to capitalize on what drives employees: recognition. 

Over 50% of employees believe that employers can increase engagement through recognition. Recognition is the major factor in employee retention — and it’s one way to make performance management more effective. By recognizing employees for their accomplishments and consistently giving them goals to work towards, businesses can make their employees feel valued. 

Of course, it can be hard to identify the employees who need to be recognized without having a method of tracking employee data. 58% of organizations are using spreadsheets as the only way that they’re tracking performance. This is contributing to difficulties when creating effective performance management; managers are unable to work with real data to improve their employee’s productivity. 

By also creating better business and data management processes, an organization can ultimately foster a relationship with its employees that is recognition-based and goal-focused. Through this, it can create effective and comprehensive performance management strategies, with the ultimate goal of aiding the organization towards higher ROI.

Looking for some tips and tricks for modernizing and reviving your company’s performance reviews and performance management processes? Be sure to check out our video: Reviving the Performance Review for ways you can reduce the negative impacts of traditional reviews, and update your company’s performance management for a modern workforce.

Looking for ways to engage your managers and employees in ongoing performance and development discussions? Book your live demo of emPerform – automated & complete performance management software.


‘Tis the Season – Get Cozy with emPerform


‘Twas the month before review deadlines and paper was piling.
HR dreaded the motions of employee appraisal filing.
 Employee goals were allusive, were they even on track?
Are employees engaged, did they get any feedback?
 Managers are scrambling, employees confused.
What is the purpose of this? No wonder some even refused.
HR felt helpless, and filled with despair,
But hoped that emPerform soon would be there!


Join us for a live demo to see how emPerform can make your
performance management processes so much brighter!

Happy Holiday Season!
The emPerform Team

A recent study showed that less than 20% of millennial employees surveyed say they receive regular feedback from their manager. Don’t make employees hunt for feedback – give managers the tools needed to engage in ongoing & effective feedback, check-ins and coaching.

Help boost the frequency & quality of employee feedback in your organization with emPerform tag.

Using tag, managers and employees can:

  • send feedback & create performance journals year-round
  • recognize employee milestones as they happen
  • allow for easy 360° feedback anytime, from any device
  • ensure employees get the feedback needed to succeed
  • document check-ins and 1:1 meetings with ease
  • improve the quality of performance comments and ratings

tag is included as part of emPerform’s full-featured performance management software suite. Get started today and join companies around the world who are achieving performance management success.


Be sure to check out and share these helpful resources to help your employees succeed with feedback.


Building Accountability and Transparency in Management Performance

It should be every business owner’s goal to have an empowered and motivated team working for them. An energized team tends to be productive and provide excellent customer service, which is great for business. While there are plenty of different strategies in creating a dynamic workplace, two of the biggest factors are accountability and transparency.

Are you building these key concepts into your expectations of company managers in their approach to performance management? If not, then here are some tips to help:

Stress Communication, Not Inquisitions

Many leaders recognize that lack of accountability is a big issue with their team. This may cause them to err on the side of micromanaging and questioning everything their employees do as a way to keep them on track. Unfortunately, these tactics usually have the opposite effect and can lead to unhappy employees or high turnover. Accountability is not about more management—it’s about more open and communicative management.

Regardless of the tools you use to track accountability, make sure not to rely on numbers alone. They should always be a doorway leading to increased communication. Talk to your team; ask how you can increase motivation and what changes they’d like to see in the workplace. When you involve them in decisions, you give them more power over their own happiness.

Use Tools as Part of a Larger Picture

Accountability tools such as metrics, analysis, assessments, and evaluations provide very valuable information about your organization. However, it’s the manner of their use that is truly important. Create a work culture that is not just ‘all about the numbers.’ Use them as a jumping-off point to identify high or low producers or to detect patterns that could be impacting productivity. You can then dig deeper and talk to your team, examine your culture as a whole, and develop better ways of serving your clients.

Show the Numbers and Explain What They Mean

If you are using analytics data from your performance management process and/or system to coach employees, it’s important that you are transparent and show the numbers to your team. Many employees see management tools as frightening tests they need to pass to keep their jobs. (If you are looking for ways to downplay the effects of ratings while still enabling reporting, here is a great article).

Take away the mystery and fear by explaining the tools to your workers and show them what areas are being tracked. Help them develop new strategies to excel, not only on their evaluations, but also on their jobs as a whole. When you share the numbers with the team, you’re creating ownership. You’re also giving them the opportunity to develop internal goals that are measurable and can be shared with the rest of the organization.

A management team that is committed to accountability and transparency leads to an empowered and engaged workforce. A performance management software like emPerform can give you a great starting point to incorporate these important aspects into your work environment.