Undermining control

This is an excerpt from my new book, Organizational Psychology for Managers.


The powerful thing about providing people control is that it builds their sense of competence and autonomy. They become more likely to tackle difficult projects and are less willing to give up. However, if we approach control in the wrong way, we can easily reverse those effects. It’s easy to order people to do something and then tell them exactly how to do it: that’s not giving them control. That’s micromanaging.

The more serious problem, though, is when you routinely second-guess people’s decisions: a form of the hindsight trap we discussed in the previous chapter. Remember that your goal is not to have people make the decisions you would make, but to make the decisions you can work with. As we discussed in the section on feedback, focus on what people did right. When you do have to correct something, make sure you clearly explain why the decision the incorrect and how they can fix it in the future. Avoid doing this unless it really is necessary: frequent correction only undermines confidence and destroys the sense of control. I’m not in control if I’m always wrong! If you are finding that you have to frequently correct people, either you haven’t adequately conveyed the goals to them, you have the wrong people, you haven’t provided them proper training, or you are too sensitive.

Balzac combines stories of jujitsu, wheat, gorillas, and the Lord of the Rings with very practical advice and hands-on exercises aimed at anyone who cares about management, leadership, and culture.

Todd Raphael
ERE Media

Leave a comment

Your comment