Micromanager or Performance Leader?


As the NC State Faculty & Staff Ombuds, I sometimes get visitors to the office who express dissatisfaction that their “leader” is a micromanager. I hear – “why won’t they let me do my job!!??” or “do they think I’m stupid” or “I’ve got these great ideas, but don’t get a chance to share them” and the list goes on.  And, you’ve perhaps seen the “Are You a Micromanger? Take the Quiz to Find out?” (here’s one from Inc. and another from thebalancecareers.com) This is where I started the thinking for this post. What does a micromanager do and are there some strategies to help shift this dynamic? I started writing and then I stopped and did what I routinely do with visitors to the ombuds office – can we reframe the situation? Can we think in terms of positive, constructive behaviors, or in terms of performance? Can we make it us versus the problem?  So, here goes a reframe.

In the context of this post it becomes not how to stop being a micromanager; instead, it is about how to be a performing manager or let’s call it a “Performance Leader.” Certainly much has been and will be written on this subject yet let me share a few ideas to get you (and maybe even your manager) started!

Here are several ideas about being a good manager from Art Petty, writing about “12 Ideas to Dramatically Improve your Performance as a Manager,” that seem to strike a positive cord.

Get up and walk around! Or, as Art calls it, don’t be a “bridge lizard” – meaning don’t sit at your desk, survey the scene from a stationary spot, and take potshots at folks that pass by. Put yourself (as manager) into the action and learn about your team and the work to be done and stop taking those potshots!

Increase the information flow.  People want to know how to do their job and, if the information, is available, they’ll use it. They will get the job done. Share information.

Change your approach to “trust.”  I think this is my favorite. Start with trust first. Give it to your team. While earning trust is also important, Art believes that if you give it freely first, then people will work hard to meet and exceed expectations and will earn it too.

So, if you are a manager think about the “frame” you use and consider taking some advice from Art and get off that bridge!  And, when you want some help thinking about workplace issues, GO OMBUDS!

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