(This is Part 3 of Leadership Principles)
I like keeping my “to do” list on a big whiteboard so I can have all the work I haven’t done staring me in the face. Constantly. Shaming me into doing more. I’m odd that way.
My boss walked in one day and stood facing me (with his back to my whiteboard). He started rattling off (endlessly) all the things I should be thinking about. All the projects I should be doing. All the analyses I should be conducting.
After he got to about the twentieth item I should be thinking about or doing, I calmly picked up my briefcase, put it on my desk, put my portfolio in it, closed it and shut off the light on my desk.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going home. You’re doing my job so you don’t need me and should take the cost savings.”
High risk? Yes. A possible career-limiting move? Definitely. A pointed way to define boundaries, responsibilities and preferred management styles? Absolutely.
We all take some measure of satisfaction from being competent at our jobs. None of us enjoy being micromanaged. One good way to prevent that from happening is to clearly articulate and agree upon responsibilities and boundaries with your manager. Second, understand your manager’s “update frequency” (how often they want to know what’s going on in your world and what level of detail they want on those topics). Establishing boundaries and adhering to a regular update frequency will help your manager be comfortable with your competence (i.e., they’ll stay out of your hair and have less of a tendency to micromanage). In some companies, they call this “managing up.”Once you’ve clarified and led your manager to manage you for best results, you’ll need to take a step back, take a deep breath, and assess your style (or lack thereof) for managing your subordinates. Are you the person who walks in and tells them all the things they need to do (that incidentally are already written on their whiteboards)? There’s a good reason this happens (a lot) – we naturally gravitate to tasks we’re good at because when we accomplish or understand them, we feel good about ourselves. We feel competent. We feel like we’ve made a contribution. Unfortunately, doing so has prevented a member of your team from making that contribution and has kept you from working on more difficult tasks that will stretch your capabilities and help you grow.
Help your subordinates manage you. Understand and define their responsibilities and articulate your preferred update frequency then get out of their way. Go do something they’re not yet capable of (which probably means taking something off your manager’s to do list so they can focus on things you’re not yet capable of). Helping your boss understand how to manage you will make you much happier at work. Respecting the competence of your team members in the same manner will enhance productivity and make for happier campers. If a member of your team starts packing up while you’re telling them what to do, simply say “Sorry. I get it. I’ll let you get back to work now.” and walk away.
– Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC