The Manager Who Helped Too Much
Maybe you’re working way too hard.
A young manager said, “I want to stop doing other people’s jobs for them.”
The young manager had learned during the workshop that being overly helpful isn’t helpful.
When you’re promoted into management, it’s easy to hang on to parts of your old job while adding a bucket of management responsibilities.
Inexperienced managers mistakenly think that doing part of someone’s job is kindness or compassion. But it’s disaster.
3 dangers of over-helpfulness:
New managers fall into the seduction of I’ll-Take-Care-of-That-for-You. Maybe it seems quicker. Maybe it makes you feel important.
Once you do part of someone’s job, guess what happens next time?
Once you take on other people’s responsibilities, you become a stressed out – over-helpful – manager. Your team goes home on time. You stay late doing their work.
When you began your career, having answers was important and necessary. When you earn a management role, start asking people…
- What are you trying to accomplish?
- If you could solve this with a magic wand, what would the result be?
- What have you tried? (Never enter a problem-solving conversation until you ask, “What have you tried?”)
- What do YOU think YOU could do? Be sure to use “you” not “we”. Never say, “we,” unless you are going to get personally involved.
The difference between encouragement and doing part of someone’s job is ownership and responsibility. When you encourage, they still have responsibility. When you solve, you take ownership.
#3. Poor performance:
The over-helpful manger is a bottleneck to organizational performance. Everyone waits for Over-Helpful to step in. What If Over-Helpful isn’t available?
The point of management is creating environments where people thrive.
What are some symptoms of over-helpful management?
What does healthy helpfulness look like?
GREAT! In normal term it’s quoted, ‘never displease yourself to please another’. Sometimes, I do fall into that angle while working with my colleagues by giving a helping hand to tackle one or two problems. But one thing remains obvious and annoying after the sum-up and workdone the individual never learn or adapt to it, I think that falls into Poor Performance. The point of management is creating enviroments where people strive.. THANKS DAN! #Encouragement #Empathy #Humility
Being overhelpful could be a symptom of wanting to fit in or seeking the approval of others. It could also be a sign of lack of training or mentoring. Just like a plane simulator for pilots to train in flying, managers could benefit from some sort of simulator management training before taking the role.
I did this initially when I took over the supervision position at a large teaching hospital. I have come to realize I trust my team to address a need without me stepping it. It builds them up and builds confidence for all!
When you start “helping” by doing someone’s work it then becomes expected. Big pitfall.
As an analyst that works with over-helpful managers, I feel disempowered and of no value. When my manager does my job, I question my worth and my existence in the role. So, not only does it add stress to the manager doing it as mentioned in the post; it also adds the stress of having to coach your unhappy team.
When I promoted out of my last job (same agency) my old team would call often. I enjoyed being missed at first. Then I noticed that they were asking the same questions. I figured out they were not learning from me but leaning on me. I changed the way I interacted with them. I changed it to “how did you do it last time you asked” “I think I sent you instructions on how this works” and such. Now the ones still there just call to say hi. The lazy non-performers are gone.
Great article! I sometimes do get bogged down with the question “How do we solve this problem?” And find out that the “we” indicated to the other person that “I” will do most of the heavy lifting. Going forward, I will use a very emphatic “you” in that question.
That’s a great insight. I’ve never thought that giving a helping hand to a colleague can be a problem to the whole team. If it’s a one time help it’s ok. But when it repeats again and again, then the problem occurs and bottleneck appears. Thanks for the brilliant post.
That’s a very interesting approach. After I’ve read this post I changed my mind. So you are right the help we give to others are not always helpful.