We’ve all heard about or been accused of being helicopter parents by now. The results of helicopter parenting (aka a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children) often show up in the workplace. You might recognize the employees who need a ton of praise for seemingly simple accomplishments, require direction/instruction as opposed to being self-directed, and/or seem moody and anxious and have no real goals or sense of direction.
I am not suggesting for a minute that all employees of any age group fit this description. But I talk to enough of you to know that odds are good that you have one or two in your shop. What I want you to consider for a moment is if you’re actually making it worse.
Ideally, every employee would come to you in perfect condition, not needing any mentoring or education. Let me know if that ever happens. Until then — you are responsible for molding them into the team member you’re hoping for. Here are some of the ways I see agency owners/leaders helicopter their employees, stunting their growth and productivity.
You own their growth: How many times have you had an employee walk into your office and ask what their career path was? You can coach them through mapping out a plan but they should drive it. If you tell them what they want to be when they grow up — odds are, you’ll get it wrong and they’ll get disenchanted and leave.
You handle the details: Is your employee traveling on behalf of the business? Do you still make all their travel arrangements? Let them at the very least, make a few recommendations or do the legwork. How else will they learn to be smart about agency resources?
You finish their sentences: So many agency owners talk over their employees in client meetings or new business pitches. That screams “I don’t have confidence in this person” to both your client and the employee. Coach them ahead of time (if you actually allowed time for rehearsal it would help) and critique them afterward. But don’t undermine them in front of others.
You tiptoe around issues: Passive-aggressive parenting doesn’t work and neither does passive-aggressive bossing. Your employees will never learn to seek out, accept and grow from critiques if they aren’t offered the opportunity. I highly recommend the book Radical Candor if you’re looking for help on how to do this well.
Want to become a better, more profitable business owner? Be a better boss. We’ll cover this in-depth at the Running Your Agency for Growth, Profit (and a little sanity) workshop in March. Be sure to sign up soon to be sure not to miss out.
This was originally published in the weekly AMI newsletter.