Am I a fantastic boss or a micro-managing pain?

Dear Aunty B,

I have always regarded myself as a great manager. However, while performance reviewing two of my staff I was told that I was micro-managing them.

One of the “accusers” is a slacker and hates me looking over her shoulder. But the other one is a great performer, self-motivated and gets good results, and I always thought we made a great team. How do I unpack an issue like this?

Devil’s in the detail



Dear Devil,

Here is a little test to do. Ten questions! Answer agree or disagree in your head. In less time than it takes to say I love you Aunty B, you will know if you are the micro-manager from hell or an attentive leader who drives performance.

Answer Agree or Disagree:

  • I toss and turn at night worried about the business and feel resentful that my staff are probably sleeping between silk sheets, dreaming of their winter holiday.
  • I am so busy with every minute of my day scheduled by my PA.
  • Sometimes it is quicker and better if I just do it myself.
  • My staff are really helpful and love pitching in to get me over the line.
  • I have the answers to everything and encourage people to ask me questions rather than waste time finding solutions.
  • I require my staff to stick closely to our plan as we don’t want to lose focus.
  • I watch costs very closely and would never hire a great person if they became available if it meant killing my budget.
  • I have learnt from experience that most people work best with close supervision.
  • I could never make someone completely responsible for a large portion of my business in case it didn’t work out.
  • I am ultimately responsible for everything.

Hmmm. You answered Agree part or all the way through. Didn’t you?

So your staff are right. You are a micro-manager. That’s not saying you are not a good manager who works well with some people. But you are not a leader and the best people with the most leadership potential will not work well with you at all.

Personally? You need to make a big shift in your thinking if you want to go the next step and move from being a manager to a leader.

It’s hard! Some of those answers are tied up with who you are and how you work. And I know you feel cross. So here is what you should do. Find a really smart leader and discuss these questions with them. Work through your own reasoning and be prepared to have it challenged.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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