Projects at Work

Managing: Hands-on vs. Hands-off

When managing your project teams, are you more hands-on or hands-off? What are the key advantages and disadvantages of each approach? In what situations is one approach more appropriate than the other? Can you do both?

Hands-on Management

The slang term “hands-on management” almost means what it says — an employee or project team member being managed very closely — almost with the manager’s hands directly in whatever they happen to be doing at any given moment.  In the case of hands on management, the manager — be it resource or project — has a need or at least feels a need to be heavily involved in all aspects of the employee’s current tasks.


Hands-off Management

The practice of hands-off management is based on the notion that the employee or project team member is skilled and self-motivated and is able to make decisions — most if not all — without direct management involvement. The saying, “That’s what I hired you for” means just that. A hands-off manager usually hires individuals who they feel can do the job well and lays a certain amount of trust in that concept. The belief is that at any given…


> Do you consider yourself a hands-on manager?

> When do you consider hands-on management to be beneficial?

> From an employee or project team member perspective, have you ever required hands on management or received it? Was it helpful?


> Do you consider yourself a hands-off manager?

> From your experience, do employees or team members respond better to hands-on management or hands-off management?

> Do you set parameters in advance for employees/project team members for hands-off management or do you wait for an issue to arise before intervening?

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Andy Jordan

President, Roffensian Consulting Inc.
Andy Jordan is a well known author and speaker on project management and…

Bart Gerardi

Director, Software Development,
Bart has been in ecommerce for over 20 years, and can’t imagine a …

Vicki Wrona

President, Forward Momentum, LLC
Vicki Wrona is the founder and President of Forward Momentum, a PMI Regi…

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Vice President, Technology, Leadership for Educational Equity
Author of The Project Manager’s Little Book of Cheats. Available o…

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