Benign Neglect

Most managers, at best, are a form of benign neglect. Continual attention (micro management) usually results in the opposite of what a manager hopes for—less motivation from employees, learned helplessness, and worse performance. Benign neglect leaves room for employees to have agency to do their work but it’s kind of like the placebo effect, maybe most managers are better off doing nothing at all.

If that’s good, that’s an awfully low bar. When I first heard about this, I agreed it’s not such a bad outcome but surely it can be better.

I like to ask new hires who the best manager they’ve ever had in their career. No one described benign neglect.

See also: