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Feedback Unscripted 1 of 9

In honor of our Learning Cycle Topic of Giving Effective Feedback, my friend and colleague, Angela Fucci, agreed to spend some time on zoom with me role-playing “good” and “bad” attempts at handling a variety of common feedback situations. We laughed, stumbling through some of the awkward conversations, and then discussed our key take-aways.

Dealing with a Controlling Boss

While controlling bosses can provide plenty of structure and guidance, they are usually so focused on the picture they have in their head of how the task should be done that their interactions with the team are all about telling people how they should be doing it, and then getting exasperated that things are not being done “right”. While the boss doesn’t realize it, the frustration and impatience come across as “yelling” to the team. I’ve worked with controlling bosses who say “I never raise my voice” without understanding that the frustration, exasperation, and impatience in the tone convey punishment regardless of decibel level. Team members tend to avoid the boss, which exacerbates the situation, and creates a dynamic where the boss believes the team doesn’t care about doing good work. If this miscommunication continues unresolved, it results in high turnover, low morale, and an exhausted and frustrated boss doing everyone’s work for them.

Here are some of the keys to dealing with a controlling boss:

DOS AND DON’TS

1. DON’T avoid the boss, even though you really want to. This makes your boss think you don’t care about your work and may even be hiding something. Instead, provide frequent updates on where you are with everything. This builds trust and reduces the micromanaging.

2. DO give the boss feedback on how the behavior impacts you and what you need in order to do your best work. Share how important doing an excellent job means to you and what ideas you’d like to try. Agree to the critical things that must be done in certain ways and show that you can be counted on to achieve these results and report your progress.

3. REMEMBER that behind controlling and micromanaging behavior is always the fear that things will fall apart. Your job is to assure your boss that things won’t fall apart on your watch. Once you’ve built that trust through proactive initiative and communication, you’ll notice that you are getting more autonomy and respect.

In the video below, Angela and I discuss the blind spots most controlling bosses have and practice giving a controlling boss feedback. It runs about 7 minutes. Enjoy!

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