How Long is Your Management Nose

Long-nosed managers sniff around in everyone’s business. Short-nosed managers seem disinterested, aloof, and uncaring.

How long should a manager’s nose be? One size doesn’t fit all.

My preference:

I preferred managers with short noses. Over-involvement offended me.

  1. Don’t you trust me?
  2. Do you think I’m incompetent?
  3. Don’t you have something better to do?

But, there’s more to the story. A few affirmations fueled my fire. An occasional, “How are things going?”, let me know they cared.

You’re a nagging meddler that doesn’t trust me if you’re over-involved. Too little involvement and you’re an uncaring jerk.

A manager reading my preferences might feel damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

2 conversation starters for the right size nose:

Optimal involvement with team members depends on each team member.

#1. Tell me about one of your favorite bosses. Listen and ask the following questions.

  1. How involved with you was she?
  2. Could you describe his involvement with you?
  3. How did you feel after an interaction with her?
  4. How did his involvement benefit you?
  5. What kind of involvement from me seems most useful? Frequency?

Before asking question #5, declare the purpose and goals for your interaction with employees.

#2. When you think about my past involvement with you, which types of involvement are most energizing?

  1. If I were less involved, what would be true for you?
  2. If I were more involved, what would be true for you?
  3. If I nudged the level of my involvement with you in one direction, would you prefer that I nudged it toward less or more?

Don’t stress out. Have conversations about optimal level of involvement.

Personal reflection:

Reflect on your boss’s involvement with you. How would you like to tweak that involvement? Perhaps it would be good for you to tweak your own involvement with your team in the same way.

How might managers determine an optimal level of involvement for each employee?

How might you tweak your level of involvement with team members?

Bonus material:

Signs You’re a Micromanager (HBR)

Stay Involved without Micromanaging (Management Center)