Helicopter supervision doesn’t work

One of my biggest gripes about supervisors or newly assigned managers is their inability to let go. Most believe in having a tight grip over anything and everything they’re responsible for; which isn’t a bad strategy but we’re dealing with people here. (Else what else would you be managing? Stuff? Tasks? Results? You can’t possibly get anything done without manpower.)

I don’t mind being obsessed with getting things done or tackling your task list like you mean it. What I do mind is hovering over your team members (both in the office and the ones working remotely) all the freaking time. It’s irritating (for them) and grossly unnecessary. If you’re one of them, let me tell you, it’s an overkill. I say that from first hand experience… being managed by a bunch helicopter supervisors myself (in the distant past, thankfully). They taught me a very important lesson — the kind of leader/manager I don’t ever want to become.

You don’t have to get into a call or a meeting everyday with each and every member of your team (including the housekeeping staff). They’re a bunch of adults who know what’s expected of them and understand the implications of not delivering results. Why? Because as a manager, you’ve made it clear right at the outset of the project they’re working on. That’s all there is to it! Following up with them after every hour isn’t going to make anyone’s life a bit easier.

I mean how hard is it to understand that just going through a detailed progress report (that includes a SWOT analysis, the gaps, resolutions, timelines and expected outcomes) is enough and that hour-long call with the person who prepared the report is just isn’t needed. You’re wasting your time and the analyst’s time as well. Two precious hours that could’ve been productively spent doing things that would propel your project even further.

I don’t call this work but an utter waste of time. Just like I would call 90% of the “important” meetings and discussions going on across the world right now. They’re totally optional. Missing one of them wouldn’t shut down a business. And if it’s that critical, stop talking and get the fuck to work!

It irritates me to the core to see or hear about a super-busy manager who’s all over the place but not the ones where they really need to be. Having conflicting priorities don’t help you or your team. And trust me, they’ll hate you for being miserable and making their lives miserable.

The resolution is pretty simple — let go of some of your control. This could include:

  1. Delegating responsibilities.
  2. Setting expectations and follow through on a timely basis — and by that I don’t mean every 60 minutes or 24 hours but every week or 10 days — share feedback, tweak things if needed, and repeat.
  3. Evaluate on the real value of the meetings, calls and appointments that you’ve set up. What would happen if you don’t take/attend them? What else could you be doing instead?

Just thinking in these lines is a great start as you will be compelled to make at least one positive change. And that’s enough to make everyone around you so much more relaxed and productive. Who knew staying ‘on top of things’ can get in the way of your team’s productivity and outcomes?

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