“How are things going at work?” I asked my friend Courtney.
She thought about it for a moment, and said, “I’m bored. I’m hitting my numbers, but I’m just not motivated to do any more. I don’t feel challenged.”
She explained that she rarely hears from her boss, and when she does, there’s no feedback on the work she’s doing. No constructive criticism. When she does hear from him, it’s obvious he’s multitasking.
“It’s almost like he’s just checking off a box that says, ‘call staff.’
Sounds to me like that’s precisely what’s going on: her manager is going through the motions. He has stopped communicating with his team, and no longer has the pulse of the organization. And as a result, he’s losing his best people.
“I don’t know what’s worse — that, or being micromanaged,” I said.
She and I met while working at a company where micromanaging was standard practice, and was the reason both of us eventually moved on. Our bosses constantly hovered over us, asking to be copied on emails (even when they weren’t directly involved) and requiring frequent updates on every project. It was exhausting, not to mention stifling.
We both believe the ideal leadership style lies somewhere in the middle of the boss who is checked out and the one who never stops checking in; however, we differ on where exactly the sweet spot lies. Courtney wants to be given specific direction and held to certain benchmarks, which makes sense, as she is in sales. Other the other hand, I prefer to be given more autonomy, which is no surprise, given that I’m a writer. In fact, I’m so resistant to the helicopter style of leadership that I’m shocked I made it through driver’s education.
The point is, my friend and I thrive under different leadership styles because we are different people. But what we both want is someone who motivates us to do our best work by providing just the right amount of guidance. And for leaders, that’s where the challenge lies — in determining just how much of a push different individuals require to thrive. Some are motivated through reward or competition, some are driven by a whole lot of positive reinforcement, and some perform best when given a lot of leeway. The trick is in figuring out their sweet spots and adjusting your management style so that you get the best out of your people.
Ironically, what both types of mismanagement have in common is that they fail to empower the staff; in fact, they often have quite the opposite effect. If we’re learning anything in this ever-changing healthcare industry, it’s that there are no guarantees for success, but the chances are a lot higher when you have people who are invested. And allowing them to be part of the process, according to a LinkedIn article, “can have a hugely positive impact. Not only will they have a sense of purpose, but also a sense of belonging and community within the organization, working toward a shared goal. To put it simply — they will be engaged.”
And you can check off that box.