We’ve heard the term “helicopter parent,” a reference to moms and dads who constantly hover over their children, never giving them the opportunity to make their own decisions or mistakes, swooping in to save the day when things become the least bit challenging.
Helicopter bosses are much the same, hovering, micromanaging, and second-guessing their team’s every decision. These bosses may have the best of intentions, but they fail to realize the damage they are doing. They are smothering the very potential that could result in creative innovations leading to better, faster, more efficient production.
When leadership hovers, employees become demotivated, feeling their efforts are a waste of time because the boss will change it. Of course, the boss is exhausted from trying to refine everyone’s work and frustrated at his employees’ apparent lack of commitment.
If you struggle with the need to control, here are four tips to consider:
ACCEPT THAT YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE THE FIRST TO KNOW
As leaders, we have the strong desire to be “in the know.” However, you can’t afford to be caught up in every little detail. Trust the people on the front lines; they’re usually the ones who provide the best solutions because they’re most familiar with the situation.
TAKE YOURSELF OUT OF THE MIDDLE
It’s easy to waste time on details. Instead, focus on “the big picture”, what’s really important. Every assignment may not be done “your way.” Have faith that most things can be accomplished effectively in many ways.
DROP THE “I MUST DO IT MYSELF” MOTTO
How many times have you thought, “If I want something done right, I have to do it myself?” You’re over-complicating your life and limiting yourself as a leader. When you begin relying on other people, you’re free to focus on those things that are the highest and best use of your time.
TEACH YOUR EMPLOYEES TO PRIORITIZE
As the leader, it’s your job to coach and influence your team – and this includes managing their time at work. Lead by example. Help people stay focused on their priorities by emphasizing how their work supports the vision and mission of the company.
Just as parents need to allow their children to make mistakes, bosses must accept that there may be mistakes. But mistakes teach us our most valuable lessons. The next time you find yourself swooping around your employees, remember your role is to coach, model and serve as a resource for your team, not to hover over and make decisions for them.
The road is easier together,
Linda Laitala, President
Raven Performance Group