Mark Hammer

Frequently, the boss is also accountable for things like employee survey results that include indices of harassment or pressure (the latter often being reported as the former), and other things that undermine engagement.

Senior and upper middle-management needs to send the message to staff that it is OK to discuss such matters, and that it may well be in the boss’s best interests to do so if it improves those indices of morale and engagement. Doesn’t mean they have to start being laissez-faire. And, as you rightly point out, sometimes micromanagement IS a result of misdelegation and tasking people with things that really ought to be handed off to someone else, or divided up.

I think some of what Pattie has raised is also quite pertinent. Even if you buy a measly $6 meal, your server comes over and asks if everything is satisfactory, so why shouldn’t a supervisor try to find out early on if the right task and right resources were assigned to the right person? Ultimately, a lot of this comes down to etiquette and the understood rules of what is normative and what might be construed as threat. If the higher-ups convey clearly that some forms of checking up are in everybody’s interests within the organization, and that the normal way of doing so will, or ought to, look like this (i.e., a script is provided), then that lets supervisors with less-than-perfect soft skills do so with more grace, and lets staff discern when it’s normative vs non-normative.