Managers have the crucial responsibility of supporting and
leading teams to get things done in an effective manner. There is a fine line,
though, that managers must effectively straddle between taking and releasing
control of a situation. Problems arise when a manager leans too far into taking
control, leaving team members with little responsibility. Over time, these team
members can become too dependent on their managers.
As workplaces move towards more flexible working
environments and models, the need for employees to be able to work
independently without round-the-clock supervision is imperative. Finding the
balance between independence in teams and guided support will help businesses
Causes of Manager
Micromanagers are some of the biggest culprits of manager
dependency because of their controlling personalities. Team members are more
likely to second guess their work when a micromanager is breathing over their
shoulder, leading to feelings of self-doubt.
On the other hand, manager dependency can also stem from a
manager being too relaxed in their approach. When team members are unsure of
what they are supposed to do, there is no way for them to go forth confidently
and they are forced to approach managers out of necessity.
Team members themselves can be the reason for their own
manager dependency if they are unmotivated or lazy. They may reach out to
managers saying that they don’t understand a task in order to pass the work on
to others. Additionally, team members that struggle with confidence in general
may constantly seek the approval of a manager, encouraging the dependency.
How to Combat Manager
1. Recognize differences
While some employees like more guidance from managers,
others may feel stifled by constant supervision. Managers need to make sure
that work relationships with team members are mutually beneficial, which can be
done by considering the structure of your team, such as who works well with
2. Be clear and
Team members should clearly know what is expected of them.
It is the manager’s job to communicate tasks effectively to each individual. In
conjunction, the delegation of tasks should be accompanied by confidence
boosters so that team members can believe they can truly do a good job.
3. Balance Distance
For managers to show they really are confident in someone, let
employees take the reins. If team
members always have the ability to fall back on managers, there isn’t room for
them to grow independently. However, touching base every so often and setting
milestones can make sure employees are still on track with the manager’s goals.
Creating boundaries on appropriate times to communicate with a manager and when
not to will foster more independence.
Acknowledging the existence of manager dependency in your
workplace is the first step to nurturing a better work environment. If your end
goal is to have employees that are confident in themselves but still respect
the reporting relationship, implementing these strategies will help you reach
it. Continue to stimulate conversation between management and subordinates to
ensure concerns are heard and that everyone can proceed confidently in their