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:

#1. Dependency.

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?

#2. Stress.

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… 

  1. What are you trying to accomplish?
  2. If you could solve this with a magic wand, what would the result be?
  3. What have you tried? (Never enter a problem-solving conversation until you ask, “What have you tried?”)
  4. 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?