There’s a fine balance between being a good manager and being an overbearing boss. Letting employees know you’re in control in a positive way will improve relations and increase productivity. This article explains.
Good leaders know how to manage their workforce and get the results they need, without negative side effects. Achieving this can take introspection – a skill every manager requires.
Consider the fable about the killer cat and the mice. In a nutshell, the mice discussed how they would hang a bell around the cat’s neck to warn them of incoming danger. Unfortunately, their plan failed as none of them were willing to do the job. Nonetheless, the fact remains; the mice were in search of a warning signal.
Now, ask yourself, do your employees view you in the same light as the mice did the cat? Are you the danger that they need to be warned about?
As a business owner, boss, or manager, being assertive and driven comes with the territory. Tasks must be completed on time to keep the business running smoothly and revenue rolling in.
You make all the decisions, and if anything goes pear-shaped, it’s your head on the chopping block. The stress can take its toll and put you on edge – it’s not easy being in charge.
This can lead to you becoming overbearing, even if you swore you’d never walk this path. An overbearing attitude creates a tense, hostile and fear-filled environment. Your employees will minimise their contact with you as they see you as volatile.
Eventually, this could result in missing out on new business ideas or even lead to key staff members resigning. While your more polite, less assertive employees may still put up with the stress, it will take its toll on their health and wellbeing.
Being a leader
There will always be resistance to change and as a leader, you must be prepared to deal with this as and when it arises. Most businesses and initiatives fail as a result of being unable to adapt to change. Persuading people to change takes a lot of time, effort, and dedication. Even then, they’re often still resistant to change.
So, why doesn’t it work? The answer is simple.
The leadership style involved is not well received.
Forcing people to change will not work, we want to be in charge of our destiny and make our own decisions. We want to receive recognition for deciding to do something, as it provides a sense of accomplishment.
This is a powerful motivator in helping us to discover who we are and what we are seeking to become; it allows us to grow. You cannot take away a person’s freedom to choose and expect them to simply change to meet your demands.
Being a manager or boss doesn’t automatically make you a leader.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”. – John Q. Adams
Are you an overbearing boss?
You may not know it, but your relationship with your employees will determine the quality of work produced. If they’re not fond of you, they’ll submit subpar work and merely complete tasks to say that they’ve been done.
Nothing more, nothing less.
In some cases, its intentional, while in others it’s purely psychological – the thought of you puts them off working or trying to do their best. Essentially, they view what they are doing with a grudge, and their only aim is to see it through to take home their paycheque. They derive no pleasure from their work and have little to nil job satisfaction.
If you think that you are an overbearing boss, these questions will assist you in reaching your conclusion:
- Do you become impatient when people don’t understand your urgency?
- Are you competitive or do other people view you as competitive?
- Have you been told that you never let things go?
- Do employees email you their feedback and suggestions or are you approachable?
- Do you often argue or bicker with people?
- Do you force your opinion on others?
- Can you take direction?
- Do you deliberately provoke people?
- Are you a defensive, aggressive driver?
- Is having a “Type A” personality a good thing?
Assertive versus overbearing
When we think of an assertive boss, we think of them as decisive, direct and task orientated. They step up when they need to and ensure that the job gets done. They take on uncertainty with ease and aren’t afraid of being fearless leaders. They’re often vocal about what they expect and are equally as vocal about things that should be avoided.
An assertive boss perceived as overbearing is viewed as rude, domineering, dictatorial, confrontational, unreceptive, and downright scary. People that are not as assertive will have difficulty dealing with this type of personality. Often, to avoid conflict, employees will avoid voicing their opinions
As a boss, try to adopt new behaviours that will facilitate the development of a stronger relationship with your employees. You need to change your mindset. Overbearing is not the opposite of poor or weak leadership. The opposite of overbearing is respect. You need to understand that not everyone has the same views, and are different ways of coping with workplace conflict.
Overbearing bosses are notorious for bringing destruction into the workplace. When a crisis arises everything is dropped to take on whatever tasks are more important. Confusion arises, and employees become resentful. It also makes creating a work-life balance tough, as employees never know when they’ll be called on to work overtime or extra hours.
If you fear you’re overbearing, try the following:
- Remain calm;
- keep your voice levelled and even-toned;
- don’t interrupt people;
- actively listen before sharing your opinion, and;
- give employees a chance to formulate an answer when asked a question.
As Seth Godin once said: “Leadership is the art of giving people a platform for spreading ideas that work”.
This implies that open and honest communication will do wonders for your team. Plus, it will provide a safe platform for sharing ideas and working collaboratively – a win for any business.
The perks of not being overbearing
People respond better to authority figures that show their appreciation and value their employees. While their expectations may still be high, they encourage their employees to meet this goal without using force and intimidation.
Simple elements to consider include:
- Listening to the opinions of your employees and giving them the opportunity to provide their feedback whenever they deem fit.
- Give credit where credit is due and acknowledge success.
- Keep your interaction and feedback as calm and respectful as possible.
- Be flexible when compromising.
- Provide context when giving feedback.
- Facilitate change but never force it.
- Look for solutions instead of problems.
- Avoid the blame game.
- Learn from criticism and don’t take it personally.
- Be open about your expectations from the start.
- Practice inclusive thinking.
- Make mistakes and learn from them.
- Don’t give up.
5 tips for dealing with an overbearing boss
If you’re looking at this from the other side of the spectrum, it’s important to know how to cope with an overbearing boss. Although it’s tempting to draw up your resume and hand in your notice, there are ways you can handle the situation to dial it down.
Focus on the end goal
Focus on the end result, the reason your boss is being so difficult. Results drive the success of any company and failure to achieve goals can be detrimental.
Make sure that you can deliver
If you agree to achieve or obtain something, you’re responsible for ensuring you’re able to deliver according to company procedure. Exceed expectations and prove that you’re a valuable part of the company’s ecosystem. It will be difficult for your boss to give you grief if you’re doing everything that needs to be done, and more.
Avoid group moaning sessions
While finding comfort in the fact that you’re not alone can help you cope, it can make you resent your boss even more. Constantly harping on about the issue with colleagues doesn’t resolve anything; it simply makes the environment tenser.
Set your own goals
Your boss may be able to set your daily and monthly goals and objectives, but you still need to find a way to push yourself to succeed. You need to consider the bigger picture and what is required to reach that point.
Blaming your boss for your failures is an easy way out. Unfortunately, you’re responsible for your failures and you’ll gain nothing by trying to shift the blame.
Fear does not equate to respect. In the past, fear may have worked as a way to get more out of your employees, but these days it will do the complete opposite.
If you do feel as though you are overbearing, take a step back and reassess the situation. What can you do differently and how can you implement a positive change? The way that you manage and lead your employees will determine the success of a business. In the same way, negative employees will ultimately be your company’s downfall.
So, the question remains. Are you an overbearing boss, and if you are, are you willing to change your behaviour?
About the Author
Lee Anna Carrillo is a community manager at Resumoo. A resume writing service, and career resource database.