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Clarity is key in communication on a team to avoid gossip and other toxic behaviors!
"Oh, my, God Becky, look at her butt. It is so big"
It's human nature to talk about other people, especially when a 90's rap song taught us that it was cool to talk about other people's *assets*. But the truth is, gossip is toxic. Once it starts in the workplace, it travels fast, fueling rumors, undermining relationships and trust, and most likely creates a working environment you don't enjoy.
Yet, you can be part of the solution to stop it.
Become a master of redirection.
(v) direct (something) to a new or different place or purpose.
When someone comes to you with gossip, don't reward the information by engaging in conversation.
Instead, give nonchalant interest and then ask a question to change the topic, like this:
Gossip Coworker: Hey, did you hear about Susan? She may get fired.
You: Hmm. I didn’t hear that. By the way, I'm glad I ran into you because I've been meaning to ask: how has it been going on the [insert specific project or objective here] project?
You probably know who the gossipers are, so think about a few topics that you can have on hand that would be relevant to those gossip people and be ready to redirect at a moment's notice.
A second tactic you can use is directly calling out basement behavior.
If someone is trying to gossip with you and you recognize that it’s a result of talents being misused causing basement behavior, tell them. You learned about balcony and basement behaviors with The Collaborative with the intent that it provided you with more awareness of when you are using (or not using) your talents to their greatest potential. Be honest with a peer as a developmental opportunity. It could sound like this:
Gossip Coworker: Ugh! I really hate Jeff's tight deadlines. It forces me to be so stressed, I think he does it on purpose because he wants everyone to be miserable like him. Did you hear that he is having trouble with... ?
You: I’m not sure that’s fair, and honestly I think you could use your empathy that is clearly reading that he has a lots of stress and is dealing with it poorly. Maybe instead you could use that Empathy to ask him what we can do to help, and read when it’s a good time to create more achievable timelines for projects. I’d be happy to help you come up with ways to approach him best.
We need each other to help us develop our strengths.
The bottom line:
Gossip may sound cool in a 90's rap song, but it doesn't belong in the workplace.
Gossip only lives if it's given fuel. Stop fueling it.
Sorry to hear that that you’re feeling micromanaged by your boss. Whether it's hovering, taking back work, or redoing some of your assignments, it never feels good, but it's important to be aware of the situation so that something can change.
You’re probably thinking that your boss needs to change, and they might, but you have a lot more control in this situation than it might seem and you actually need to take the first step. Five steps to be exact.
Follow these steps to manage your micromanaging boss.
Step 1: Know Your Strengths
While you’re on a journey to manage someone else, change always starts with you first. Know your top 5 strengths and how they show up in your various aspects of work. Then, spend time self-reflecting:
You also need to know how you can use your strengths to approach a conversation with your boss. Take time to reflect with these questions:
Step 2: Know Your Boss’ Balcony & Basement Behaviors
Do your research. You gottta know what you’re working with.
Read the talent descriptions in StrenghtsFinder 2.0, as the book offers ways to communicate with specific strengths. Plus, going back to the basics and recognizing the strengths in your boss will be great to adjust your mindset. If you’ve been recently micromanaged, you may be feeling agitated, frustrated, or annoyed. It would be helpful to remember that your boss is good at something. In fact, they do excel in their own top 5 particular talents and you need be conscious of that.
Also become well versed in the balcony and basement behavior of each of your boss’ strengths. These are great indicators that can help you share what you’ve been experiencing in a non-threatening way. If you worked with The Collaborative, you had a chance to discuss strengths as a group, so your boss should be familiar with the strengths language and open to receiving feedback.
Step 3: Determine What Type of Support You Need
Do you know what kind of support you really, truly need from a supervisor to let your talents excel?
If micromanaging feels smothering or uncomfortable, it’s probably because it's hindering one of your talents from operating at their most effective state. You need to be able to identify what type of support would allow you to exercise your strengths at work.
For example, if I have an Activator talent and I was tasked with leading a new project, my strengths would be to quickly initiate conversation and action so that doing can begin. But your boss stops you because she wants to know about a few details that haven’t been figured out just yet. This pause in momentum could feel extremely frustrating and feel like I’m not given the space to quickly initiate work.
When I stop to self-reflect on what I need, I find this: I need space to move quickly, with the intent to learn as I go, so that my Activator talent can effectively energize the new project. I also need my supervisor to trust that I know what I’m doing and that I’ll learn more about missing details as I go.
However, what my boss needs is more information from the start. So I would ask for responsibility to begin, but also schedule regular information meetings with my boss to give her what she’s looking for.
Like any relationship, it's best to take the guess work out and be very clear with what you need.
Step 4: Have a Two-way Conversation
Once you’ve done your homework and self-reflected, its time for a conversation. Ask your boss for a strengths discussion meeting.
The Collaborative brought strengths philosophy into your team so that it could be part of your everyday culture and to help facilitate meaningful conversations, just like this. Be sure to approach the meeting like a two-way conversation so that you are telling AND listening.
Here’s a suggested outline for the meeting:
Open: state the purpose of discussing strengths and sharing what you need from a supervisor to let your strengths excel
Clarify: Provide a specific example or two of a time when you felt that your talents were being micromanaged and not given the space to be at their full potential.
*Be sure to speak from your perspective, ie. “When this happened, I felt ______”
Discuss: brainstorm together what can be done differently moving forward.
Great leaders, especially those learned in the strengths philosophy, should be adjusting leadership style and support to those they work with. However, leaders sometimes need practice or aren’t exactly sure what you need. This conversation will be fruitful and a great way to build relationship with your boss, while you continue to embed strengths into your team culture.
Step 5: Build Trust through your Work Ethic
Does a direct conversation make you feel nervous? If so, no worries. Actions can sometimes speak louder than words. If you feel like you’re not quite ready for a meeting, still complete steps 1, 2, and 3. Then, take small actions throughout your work that can build trust.
Here are some examples:
Remember, if you feel like you’re being micro-managed, you do have the ability to do something about it. It starts with your own self awareness and then helping your boss become aware of their actions, too.
5 Ways to manage your micromanaging boss:
Gossip is a toxic behavior in the workplace, so focus on building strong trust instead of a quick connection.
The Collaborative Blog
Blog written and maintained by Christina Rowe except when otherwise stated that there is a guest author.