We’ve all heard about helicopter parents- you know, those moms and dads who are constantly hovering over their children, ready to spring into action at the first sign of distress or conflict. Seen on playgrounds across the country, this style of management is not limited to interactions between parents and their children. Helicoptering can also be seen in the workplace in the form of employers stifling their employees by micromanaging and not allowing them the space to learn and grow in their career. Employers who adopt the helicopter approach to management may feel confident that they have everything under control; however, their behavior often results in unhappy, unproductive and unmotivated employees.

You may be a helicopter boss if….

  • Most of your day is spent away from your desk. While checking in and advising employees are essential functions of your job, consider how much of your day is spent leaning over someone else’s desk. If hovering accounts for a majority of your day, you may need to take a step back (literally), and give your employees space to work without you looking over their shoulder.


  • The office’s turnover rate is abnormally high. Simply put, the combination of micromanaging and hovering will make your employees inch (or sprint) toward the door. After all, why should they stay in a position when their manager isn’t even confident that they are capable of performing their job efficiently?


  • Morale is consistently low. According to a survey conducted by Trinity Solutions, and referenced in the book My Way or the Highway: The Micromanagement Survival Guide, 85% of employees reported that their morale had taken a hit due to micromanagement in the workplace. Consider how your management style impacts office morale and culture. Are your employees subdued and lacking interest in their work? If so, they may be feeling a lack of autonomy resulting from a helicopter boss.


  • You are burnt-out. Are you exhausted, anxious, overwhelmed, and lacking any semblance of a personal life? Being a helicopter boss can elicit all of these feelings and are signs that you need to take steps to start relinquishing some control to your employees by delegating and assigning tasks. Periodically schedule time to check in, but resist the urge to micromanage (that’s what got you to this point in the first place).


  • Productivity is suffering. A survey conducted by FranklinCovey reported that employees viewed micromanagement as the largest reason that office productivity suffers. Employees are unable to maintain a high level of productivity when every decision is questioned, they are constantly required to explain their methods, and every move they make is heavily scrutinized.


If you can identify one or more of these characteristics in your office, it is time to consider how your management style is a contributing factor and if you are a helicopter boss.