Thursday, August 6, 2015

How Not To Be a Needy Boss

So, a couple of weeks ago I had a post about how not to be needy as an employee (you can read it here). If you don't have five minutes to read it, I'll give you the synopsis: try it yourself first, rather than running to the manager to ask direction on every single thing before you take a stab at it yourself.

So what about if you're the boss? Bosses can be quite needy, too. And, if you haven't gotten the gist of my overall philosophy here, people need to be able to work independently. That includes management. So here are some tips on how not to be a needy boss.

Don't Micromanage

A needy boss involves himself or herself in every single business decision of the organization. While this can be an effective strategy for managing when the organization is small and the needs are small, this approach does not scale. Take the time as a manager to determine what decisions actually require your input and what decisions you can delegate. Understand that delegation means that you trust the decision that will be made by your employee and while you can question how they came to that decision, your responsibility as management is to support that decision. If you disagree with what conclusion they came to then you should utilize that as coaching opportunities for the methodology they used, but you should not override or reverse their decision unless it is utterly catastrophic. Think of pure delegation as deciding what questions require your level of skills. You made it into a management position for a reason.

Only Ask For Status If You Care

This sometimes causes havoc when the team works on too many projects at once. As a manager, I often have come across a situation where I felt that I did not know what was going on with every single project in the team. As a result, I would start asking for status on everything, even though there were always key initiatives that really required my input and attention and other projects that really should have continued to operate below my radar. Don't fall into that trap. Determine what is important to you, and only ask for status if you are prepared to direct or take action should something be awry. Otherwise, trust that your employees will have it covered.

Respect Your Employee's Vacation

This seems obvious, but too many managers do not seem to think that a vacation boundary exists. When your employees take vacation, that time allows them to recharge and come back ready to tackle whatever you throw their way. Every call you make to interrupt them on the beach or the golf course takes away multiples of that time in productivity when they return. Not only that, it makes you seem like a needy, whiny, and incompetent manager if you cannot live without them for a few days. Pro tip: interrupting vacation to ask irrelevant or non-time-sensitive questions is even worse.

Don't Bother Your Employees With Minutia

This should be an easy one. If you are making a decision about what color to paint the office or which color scheme you should use on the company website, consulting your employees who are not interior designers or web marketing experts wastes their time. Not only does interrupting their actual work for minute details disrupt the actual productivity of your organization, but it also gives them the perception that you cannot make even a simple decision without them, eroding their perception of your leadership. If you believe the decision should be made by the employees, delegate it, don't ask their opinion on it. Just give the decision away and be comfortable with that, or make the decision yourself. Everything does not need to be determined by committee.

Your Employees Are Not Your Therapist

It's perfectly fine to be a human or even a friend to your employees. Some of my best friendships came from relationships with employees or supervisors. That said, your employees should not be used as your personal therapists to help you with personal decisions that don't require or impact work. I'm not advising you to avoid any talk of home life at work. People have families or children and can commiserate or offer advice on similar situations. But you should make sure you are not just venting personal problems on employees who are only engaging with you because they work for you. And certainly don't ask them for advice on legal or financial or relationship matters. Seek out an expert for that.

In the end, much like the "don't be a needy employee" advice can be boiled down to "try it yourself, first," you can generally avoid being a needy boss by trusting your employees to do their jobs and trying not to interrupt them with your own needs. Step in when you need to but let your team do what you hired them to do. If you don't trust them, perhaps you need to reevaluate your team. But good people need coaching, they don't need you to try to do their job for them.

I'm sure I've missed something. What's your best advice for not being needy as a boss? Hit me up on social media of your choice and let me know.

Image credit: Alexfetanatreviews on Pixabay