Hands-On Managers vs. Micromanagers: What's the Difference?

Updated February 3, 2023

There are many different management styles, and they can each lead to different outcomes for a workplace. Two common types of management are hands-on management and micromanagement. If you work in a leadership role, learning how to become a hands-on manager can help you improve your management skills and increase your workplace's productivity and work quality.

In this article, we explain what a hands-on manager is, the benefits of hands-on management, what a micromanager is and tips for improving your management style.

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What is a hands-on manager?

A hands-on manager is a manager who interacts with their employees frequently and stays highly involved in their workplace. Hands-on managers give their employees the freedom to do their jobs, but they intervene when necessary. Often, hands-on managers do the same work as their employees, and they know how to lead by example.

Related: How To Be a Good Manager

Benefits of hands-on management

The benefits of being a hands-on manager can include:

Improving relationships with employees

One benefit of being a hands-on manager is that it can help you improve your relationships with your employees. Hands-on managers typically trust their employees and give them the freedom to do their jobs independently. Hands-on managers are also there for their employees when they have questions or issues. This can increase trust and help you build a strong and productive relationship with your employees.

Related: How To Engage Employees

Increasing productivity and quality of work

Being a hands-on manager can also help you increase your workplace's productivity and quality of work. Hands-on managers stay involved with their employees and often complete some of the same tasks. This can help them ensure that employees meet productivity goals and maintain a high quality of work.

Strengthening leadership

Another benefit of being a hands-on manager is that it can strengthen your leadership. Hands-on managers build relationships with employees and motivate them, which are characteristics of great leaders. Becoming a good leader can help you excel in your career and lead your employees to achieve goals.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Effective Leadership

What is a micromanager?

A micromanager is a manager who is highly involved with their employees and supervises them excessively. This type of manager usually has good intentions and cares about the success of their team, but they could improve their management by giving their employees more freedom. You can identify this type of leader by spotting characteristics like:

  • Asking for updates from employees frequently

  • Asking to be included on nearly every email employees send

  • Making decisions independently rather than allowing employees to make decisions

  • Asking for frequent and detailed reports frequently

  • Avoiding delegating tasks to employees

  • More focused on details than larger perspectives

  • Doing their employees' work again after employees have already done it

Related: 14 Examples of What To Say to a Micromanager

Hands-on managers vs. micromanagers

Hands-on managers and micromanagers are similar, as the latter is typically a hands-on manager who becomes overly involved with their employees' work. Therefore, if you want to improve as a manager, it's important to understand the major differences between the two management styles, including:

Boundaries

One of the major differences between hands-on managers and micromanagers is the ability to set boundaries. Often, micromanagers struggle to set boundaries, and they supervise employees closely as they complete tasks. However, hands-on managers stay involved with their employees while setting boundaries. They trust their employees and give them freedom to complete their work while staying available if their employees need help.


Employee relationships

Hands-on managers and micromanagers often have different relationships with their employees, as hands-on managers typically have high levels of trust with their employees and collaborate with them to achieve goals. Managers who display micromanagement, however, often ask for frequent updates from their employees and watch them closely rather than trusting them and giving them autonomy.

Delegation

Another difference between the two management styles is delegation. Often, micromanagers avoid delegating tasks to their employees. However, hands-on managers typically trust their employees and feel comfortable delegating certain tasks to them. This can allow hands-on managers to focus on other tasks and projects.

Related: 10 Types of Management Styles and Their Key Qualities

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Tips for being a hands-on manager

Here are some tips you can use to improve your leadership style and be a hands-on manager:

1. Improve your leadership skills

One tip for being a hands-on manager is to improve your leadership skills. Hands-on managers are good leaders, and they possess leadership skills like communication, relationship building and critical thinking. You can develop these skills by taking leadership courses or reading leadership books and articles.

2. Motivate your employees

Another tip for being a hands-on manager is to motivate your employees. Motivating your employees can allow you to stay involved with them while giving them autonomy, which is freedom over their work. You can motivate your employees by understanding what motivates each individual employee and trying motivation tactics like performance incentives or employee of the month programs.

Related: How To Be a Better Manager in 8 Steps

3. Intervene when necessary

As a hands-on manager, it's important to intervene when necessary. When your employees need help, make sure you're there to help them. Stay involved with them so that you know when you need to intervene but try not to intervene when your employees can handle tasks on their own. This can promote trust and autonomy.

4. Strengthen your decision-making and problem-solving skills

Another tip for being a hands-on manager is to strengthen your decision-making and problem-solving skills. These skills are essential for great leaders and managers. You can strengthen these skills by creating processes to make decisions and solve problems in the workplace. You can also reflect on your past problems and decisions to see how you can improve.

5. Invest in employee development

Investing in employee development is another way that you can be a hands-on manager. Investing in employee development can help you lead your employees to improve at their jobs and advance within your company. This can increase your workplace's productivity and allow you to delegate high-level tasks to certain employees.

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