Are You Undermanaging?

I’m an empowering style of leader.  I believe in people, get agreement with them on their goals, meet with them regularly to discuss progress and do my best not to micromanage them.  But lately I’ve been questioning, “Am I under managing those I lead?”   Sometimes I empower people so much that I’m not close enough to observe and give feedback on their performance.  One thing I have learned about management is – closeness matters. A higher degree of proximity gives greater opportunity to observe and provide honest performance feedback.  To help with  my own leadership in this area I developed seven question assessment.  Here’s how it works.

  • Write down the name of one of the people who report directly to you. 
  • Answer each question below by marking it with a Yes or No. 
  • Add up your score and see how you did. 
  • Finally write out what next steps you feel you need to take to improve your managment of that individual. 

Okay, now take 5 minutes and give it a try.

EMPLOYEE NAME:  ___________________________


  1. Am I close enough to observe and offer specific praise on his/her most recent work?
  2. Am I close enough to observe and offer a specific push in an area where he/she needs performance improvement?
  3. Am I close enough to know the latest personal highlights of his/her life?
  4. Am I close enough to assess his/her level of morale and work engagement?
  5. Am I close enough to  know the health of his/her soul?
  6. Am I close enough that I provide needed coaching on his/her goals?
  7. Am I close enough that he/she and I feel a bond of trust?

MY SCORE: _______

6-7 Yes = You are doing a great job managing your direct reports.  Consider ways you can now begin to teach them your guiding managment principles so they can become great managers.
4-5 Yes = You are under managing in some areas and need to draw closer to this individual.  Identify the areas you marked No and develop your next step improvement plan.
0-4 Yes = You are under managing and need to get more engaged with your direct report.  Identify the top 2 areas that would make the biggest difference and begin taking steps this week for improvement.  You may need to let them know what you are doing so they won’t be shocked when you begin to engage them at a higher level. 


  1. ___________________________________________________
  2. ___________________________________________________

Today’s Leadership Challenge: Use this tool to assess how you are doing with each of your direct reports and write out your next steps improvment plan, then reassess yourself in 3o days.

2 Replies to “Are You Undermanaging?”

  1. Mac, you’ve nailed another great one. We think so much alike I always feel the need to explain….I have already scheduled a similar thought process post. I’m posting Wed. on 7 times we need more micro-managing.

    Thanks Mac

  2. Mac,
    What a timely topic! I become contemplative at this time of the year and struggle for tangible, objective evaluation. This the one area I have been trying to get my head around.
    Thank you for sharing.

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