Even the most rule-loving employee will wilt under a controlling supervisor who micro-manages every project or idea.
But your controlling nature could be your best friend, says Cheryl Cran, author of the new book The Control Freak Revolution: Make Your Most Maddening Behaviors Work For Your Company and To Your Advantage. Try these strategies for turning negative habits into positive influences:
- Examine your behavior. Before you can put a positive spin on your behavior, you must acknowledge the problem. Analyze how you react when your employees address issues or concerns about their work. Do you criticize their performance or downplay their intelligence? Once you can pinpoint how your behavior is getting in the way, you can begin to change it.
- Admit when you’re wrong. Just because you’re the supervisor doesn’t mean you can’t be wrong. Often, controlling leaders make mistakes by forcing others to perform tasks in pre-defined ways rather than allowing their employees to work independently. When this happens, you must take a step back, admit that you were wrong and determine how to fix the problem in a way that plays up everyone’s strengths.
- Know the personalities on your team. While some employees will thrive under your diligent attention to their work, others may dread seeing you come around the corner. Try this: Give your employees a short personality quiz to find out who needs your input and who works better when given more freedom. You can find quick quizzes online, such as the Keirsey Temperament Sorter. Once you understand your workers’ many personality types, you can better cater your management style to fit their needs.
- Inspire — don’t “fix” — your employees. It’s easy to tick off all the negative traits you’ve spotted in your employees. What’s harder is inspiring your team to improve. Employees can sense when your suggestions are more about fixing a problem than providing them with an opportunity to learn and grow. First step: The next time you offer to send an employee to a seminar to boost a specific skill, such as time management, try to focus on how the seminar will help her accomplish her professional goals (e.g., juggle more responsibility) rather than noting that it will “fix” any current problems (e.g., her tendency to miss deadlines).
- Bask in your employees’ success. We all want to be recognized for our work, but if you take all the credit for your employees’ success, you’ll alienate and demoralize your team — neither of which lead to a productive working environment. Instead, pat your employees on the back and let others know how much you appreciate their work.