Coaching a Manager Who is Too Tough

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In a previous post we examined a manager who was too easy on his team. In many cases an assignment will come in to work with a manager who has the opposite challenge – he or she is too tough on employees.

Often these hard-nosed managers tend to work long hours, do the work his team was supposed to do, be overly critical of others and not keep everyone informed.

As part of the coaching process, here are the typical elements of the prescription for performance for a tough manager:

  1. Clarify in his/her own mind what the long term vision is for the team/organization. A tough manager believes that either she has already made it clear what the goals are or that people should know the goals because they are obvious. Unfortunately employees do not know the priorities because in their mind, the priorities are constantly shifting at the apparent whim of the manager.
  2. Use a daily and/or weekly team meeting so that all members of the team can be aware of the priorities without the manager having to act as a clearing house for information. Many tough managers are like the hub in the center of a bicycle wheel. Everyone has to come to him or her with problems or to get a decision. Of course the manager doesn’t understand why employees don’t just do the right thing on their own and the vicious cycle continues.
  3. Stop providing answers to every question and solving every problem. If we assume that most of the team members are qualified and experienced the manager should let the individuals on the team retain ownership of the issues and not take over the situation.
  4. Stop doing the work of the team. In order to build greater accountability, the tough manager needs to let her team enjoy the consequences, good or bad, related to their area of responsibility.

The team will also have to adjust to the change in leadership style. While the change will be positive, there may be some frustration during the transition from manager-centred to team-centred leadership. Click here to review our coaching process.