My team and I were invited to a strategic business partner’s corporate headquarters to think about what’s possible and innovate. I viewed the trip as an excellent opportunity to retreat, bond as a team, and shape our future.
I approached my manager, Kevin, about the opportunity. He hesitated and then said, “Most trips like these are boondoggles. Do you think you’re going to accomplish anything?”
“Yes, I do. I’m confident that we’ll come back with fresh ideas and take our business to the next level,” I replied.
Kevin said, “I have my doubts. I’ll tell you what, put together a plan with specific objectives, and I’ll take a look. If I agree with your proposal, I’ll okay the trip.”
“Great, and thanks. I’ll come back to you shortly,” I said.
Over the next few days, I collaborated with my team and business partner to develop a specific plan and desired outcome. Then, I shared it with Kevin. A chronic micromanager, he asked us to make multiple changes to the plan. Once the topics were aligned with Kevin’s feedback, he begrudgingly agreed to let us go.
My team jumped into action and made the necessary coverage arrangements to ensure we could break away with limited distractions. We activated our email out-of-office messages notifying internal customers that we were out for a short time, and provided backup contact information.
The next day, we loaded the van and headed to our destination. My team was beaming with excitement and anticipation. They’d been on trips like this before and understood our retreat’s potential. As we drove, we connected on both personal and professional levels. We talked optimistically about how we could advance our vision of being industry leaders and indispensable partners.
When we arrived, we were escorted into our business partner’s innovation lab, where all of the futuristic designs inspired us. Next, we moved into a creative thinking lab to begin formulating ideas and developing plans.
Then, the first email hit… And another… And another. A series of 10 or more emails from Kevin appeared on our iPhones within 30 minutes. He was following up on projects, providing feedback, and checking in… Just to let us know, he was there.
His last email’s subject line read, “TURN OFF YOUR OUT-OF-OFFICE MESSAGE.”
In the body of the email, Kevin wrote that having our out-of-office message turned on sent the wrong message to leadership and internal customers. It was our job to be accessible regardless of what we were doing or who was covering for us.
I thought to myself, “Ugh. Really? If that isn’t micromanagement, I don’t know what is!”
I looked around the room and saw discouragement, frustration, and anger on my team’s faces. Some became distracted and anxious. Everyone began to mentally disengage from the creative thinking discussion.
During a break, I gathered my team to ask their thoughts about the emails. They told me they went to great lengths to ensure our time away would be productive and distraction-free. Kevin’s micromanagement tendencies surfaced, and the team felt disenfranchised. They wondered if it was a mistake to take the trip.
I understood their concerns. I asked the team to return to the meeting and told them I’d gently respond to Kevin’s emails. I asked them not to make a mountain out of a molehill and turn off the out-of-office messages. Lastly, I asked them to stay focused on the purpose of our meeting and ignore distractions.
The good news is that the team returned to the meeting and developed a visionary plan. Also, I ran interference by answering Kevin’s emails and asking the team to turn off the out-of-office messages. By engaging Kevin on behalf of the team, I was able to assuage his need to feel in control. We didn’t hear from him again during our trip.
Working Successfully with a Boss who Micro-Manages
Controlling bosses can slow you down and undermine your confidence. Maybe your supervisor second-guesses your decisions and expects you to be available 24/7.
Overbearing management styles are all too common and counterproductive. Most employees say they’ve been micro-managed at some point in their career, and studies show that workers perform worse when they feel like they’re being watched.
If your boss is hovering over your shoulder, encourage them to give you more space. Try these steps to gain more freedom and still get along with your boss.
Steps to Take by Yourself
- Evaluate your performance. Start by investigating whether you could be contributing to the situation. Do you show up on time and follow through on your responsibilities? Close supervision could be a rational response when an employee tends to be less than reliable.
- Be proactive. Once you’ve assured yourself that you’re on top of your work, you can focus on how to cope with your boss’s management style. Identify their anxiety triggers and figure out your plan of action in advance.
- Coordinate with colleagues. Chances are, your co-workers experience the same issues you do. Coordinate your efforts to show your boss that they can trust you to pull together to overcome challenges even while they’re traveling or focusing on strategy.
- Document your activities. Logging your accomplishments creates a paper trail. Having facts straight helps you prove your worth and maintain your peace of mind.
- Seek intervention. When appropriate, you may be able to consult others without alienating your boss. If senior management asks for feedback, let them know your supervisor’s good qualities in addition to changes that could help you do a better job. Your HR department or employee assistance program may also offer relevant advice.
Steps to Take with Your Boss
- Provide updates. Frequent status reports keep your boss informed without their having to ask. Assure them that things are running smoothly.
- Create more opportunities. Is your boss interfering with your work because they don’t have a full plate of their own? Add value by presenting them with public speaking opportunities and sales leads. Helping your boss shine is a smart way to advance your career.
- Clarify your role. Listen closely to your boss and observe their behavior. That way, you can understand their preferences and anticipate their needs. Maybe they like booking their travel arrangements. Perhaps they care more about employees following instructions than taking the initiative.
- Ask for feedback. Find out what your boss is thinking. Ask questions about what results they’re looking for and how you’re measuring up. Pinpoint strengths you can build on and changes that they would like to see.
- Communicate tactfully. Speak about finding solutions rather than criticizing their personality or work habits. If there are conflicts that you want to confront, be direct and gentle.
- Give praise for progress. Congratulations if you’re making headway. Reinforce positive interactions by letting your boss know how much you appreciate their efforts when you’re allowed to take charge of a project or take your approach. Tell them that you enjoy working with them and that they’re helping you contribute more.
- Create a personal connection. Respect and compassion enhance any working relationship. Remind yourself of what you like about your boss. Make time for small talk and sharing common interests. A strong foundation will make any disagreement easier to handle.
If you’re working to live out your faith in the workplace, here are some other principles I recommend:
- Remember Who You’re Working For. If you keep your eyes on God and embrace that you’re ultimately working for him, you’ll maintain a positive attitude regardless of the circumstance. The Bible says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23, NLT)
- Submission Is Key. It’s easy to work for a great boss. The hard part is working for and submitting to a bad one… But when you do, God is pleased. The Bible says, “You who are servants, be good servants to your masters—not just to good masters, but also to bad ones. What counts is that you put up with it for God’s sake when you’re maltreated for no good reason. There’s no virtue in accepting punishment that you well deserve. But if you’re maltreated for good behavior and continue despite it to be a good servant, that is what counts with God.” (1 Peter 2:18–20, The Message)
- Bite Your Tongue. I disciplined myself to communicate positively and not show irritation if I became frustrated. The Bible says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT)
Despite desperate circumstances, I grew leaps and bounds during the three years I worked with Kevin. I learned to cope with his management style in the short term. Eventually, I realized that Kevin’s style and mine weren’t compatible, the intense micro-management I experienced wasn’t sustainable, and I decided to move into another role.
I challenge you to apply the above principles; if you do, you’ll be able to manage being micromanaged.
Want to learn more about becoming the best version of yourself? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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“Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” — Proverbs 4:26 NIV
Moses. The hero of Israel. Deliver of the Hebrew people. Visionary, prophet, wise leader. A man of great judgment and character. A significant historical figure. Moses’ name is found some 750 times in the Old Testament and approximately eighty times in the New Testament. The Bible even says that he was God’s friend, “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Exodus 33:11 NIV). What an incredible privilege.
Moses was also very human and made some bad decisions.
In Numbers 20, the Bible tells us that the Hebrew people were still wandering in the desert before arriving in the Promised Land. They set up camp in the Desert of Zin, “a terrible place” according to the Hebrews. There was no water to quench their thirst, let alone for their livestock.
The people became angry and gathered in protest. They argued with Moses and said, “Really? You brought us all the way out here and there’s no water. Are you trying to kill us?”
So, Moses goes to God, his friend, and asks what to do.
God tells Moses to speak to a rock and water will flow from it. Easy enough.
Moses gathers the people around the rock. But he is frustrated, even angry with the people. He becomes irrational and doesn’t carefully think about potential consequences. Standing with his staff in hand, Moses cries, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10 NIV).
The Bible tells us that Moses struck the rock twice with his staff and water immediately flowed from the rock. Did you get that?
He struck the rock. Twice.
He didn’t speak to the rock as God had directed. Moses acted out of anger and frustration and made a bad decision. The consequence?
God told Moses that he wouldn’t enter the Promised Land with the Hebrews. That’s hard news.
Moses’ frustration and anger were barriers to his ability to make a sound decision. Like Moses, you’ll face many barriers to making quality, sound, wise decisions, including:
- Emotions: In addition to frustration and anger, feelings like anxiety, depression, despair, envy, fear, jealousy, and resentment can compromise your rationality. It’s best to step away from your emotions and examine the situation. Consider what’s triggering your feelings and think about potential consequences of emotionally driven decisions. Exercise self-control. The Bible says, “Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city” (Proverbs 16:32 NLT).
- Knee-jerk reactions: Ever had your knee tapped by a rubber mallet? What happens? Your leg automatically kicks out. Similarly, automatically reacting to a problem, issue, or circumstance without thinking it through may lead to making a bad decision. When you’re hit with something, don’t react so quickly.
- Personal bias: The way you see the world and your preferences and prejudices are often a barrier to sound decision-making. You lose objectivity and lean toward your own assumptions. To overcome bias, seek facts, evidence, diverse advice, and define reality. TV journalist and author Tom Brokaw said, “Bias like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Facts are your firewall against bias.”
- Analysis paralysis: Overanalyzing or overthinking can be an obstacle to sound decision-making. It will stall momentum; no decision will be made, and no course of action will be taken. Recognize that you’ll never have all of the facts and take a risk. Someone once said, “It doesn’t matter in which direction you choose to move when under a mortar attack, just as long as you move.”
- Time pressures: The amount of time you have to decide will greatly impact its quality. If you’re under the gun, how you consider and choose between options may be distorted. You’ll make mental shortcuts and not think deeply about significant decisions. You’ll lose objectivity and be more influenced by intuition. And, you won’t have the appropriate time to gather all of the necessary information. When you can, slow down to speed up.
When thinking about decision barriers, ask
- What barriers do you face when deciding?
- How do the obstacles affect you?
- What will you do to avoid or overcome the impediments you face?
Decision barriers impact your ability to make sound choices. Don’t be like Moses when he struck the rock out of frustration and anger. Exercise self-control, temper reactions, mitigate personal bias, don’t get stuck in analysis, and slow down. If you do, you’ll overcome the impediments and make sound decisions.
Want to learn more? Visit www.prestonpoore.com
1 Wayne Jackson, “A Character Portrait of Moses,” Christian Courier, last accessed July 5, 2020, https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/253-character-portrait-of-moses-a.
2 Tom Brokaw, “Lesson from a Life in Journalism,” NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, last modified October 8, 2004, http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6207274/ns/nbc_nightly_news_with_brian_williams/t/lessons-life-journalism/#.XwG8VpNKjUI.
3 Jeff Boss, “How To Overcome The ‘Analysis Paralysis’ Of Decision-Making, Forbes, last modified March 20, 2015, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffboss/2015/03/20/how-to-overcome-the-analysis-paralysis-of-decision-making/#6b9822031be5.> Read More
Negotiations can be challenging. Especially when it is over something emotional like buying a new home. We found a house we really liked during our move to Atlanta, but it was over-priced. After a long back and forth with a stubborn seller and a rude real estate agent, we finally agreed on a price.
It seemed that we gave a lot more than we got during the negotiation process, and I wasn’t willing to budge anymore. We went through the due diligence period and conducted an inspection. All went well until the day of closing.
Before closing, I walked through the house and noticed water damage and a big hole in the laundry room drywall. I was furious. Somehow the damage was missed in the inspection process, and the sellers didn’t disclose it to us.
This was the last straw!
I called my agent and told her I was very frustrated with the seller and agent’s unethical behavior. I demanded that the hole be fixed, or I’d delay closing. My agent conveyed the message to the seller.
Then, I went to closing.
Closing is always interesting…You have the sellers and their agent, you and your agent and the closing attorney around a big table. I’ve found that the meeting can be brief and transactional, or it can be contentious.
I had a decision to make. Would I be forceful and ensure my demands would be met, or would I try to connect with the folks in the room to help the process go smoothly?
Here’s what I wrote in my journal to record the closing events:
Before the seller and their agent arrived, I told the closing attorney that I would withhold the equity check until we got the laundry room drywall issue resolved.
The sellers and their agent came into the conference room about 30 minutes later. Obviously, the seller’s agent came loaded for bear. The first thing she said to me was, ‘okay, what’s this I hear about not signing papers until the drywall issue is resolved?’
It was the moment of decision. How would I handle this situation?
I write and talk to others about Christian leadership in our communities, workplaces, and schools. Honoring God in all that we do, being a witness, making a positive difference, treating people with dignity and respect. Would I walk the talk?
I decided to take the high road.
Walk the talk. Be who I say I am.
Connect with the people in the room.
Defuse the situation.
Immediately, I redirected the conversation, spent time complimenting the sellers on the beautiful home, and said that we loved the neighborhood.
The mood instantly lifted, and we began getting to know one another.
I discovered that they go to Johnson Ferry Baptist Church (where we attended) and their kids went to Walton High School. She worked at Publix. He went to a small college in Mississippi.
After this, I asked, “so, tell me a little bit about the laundry room.”
They profusely apologized for the water damage and non-disclosure (not sure how they missed this as they had the room re-tiled a couple of months ago). They said it should cost $100 to repair.
I said, ok. No contingency is needed.
I told them that I trusted that they would take care of it. Then the seller’s agent sat back with a sense of relief and uttered in disbelief, “thank you.”
This is an excellent example of being a Christian and treating people well. The Lord allowed me to defuse the situation quickly. This was not manipulation but understanding and connecting with people. This was a hard negotiation but no need to hold a grudge at the end of the game. As the seller put it, “it’s a win-win for everyone.”
Three Ways to Live Out Your Faith in the Real World
- Walk the Talk. Be integrous. Let your actions demonstrate your faith. Be who you say you are. Live out your Christian beliefs. The Bible says, “The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin” (Proverbs 11:3 – The Message). In a flash moment, I decided to walk the talk, to live what I believed, and it kept me on track.
- Defuse Contentious Situations. Dale Carnegie taught me that the best way to win an argument is to avoid it. To prevent molehills from becoming mountains and win people to your way of thinking, begin in a friendly way. I recommend connecting with people through compliments or humor. It’s amazing how quickly the ice breaks and tension eases. The Bible says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 – New American Standard Bible 95). When you defuse contentious situations, it will clear the path to alignment or agreement.
- The “How” Matters More Than The “What.” How you achieve a goal is often more important than what you do to get there. How you treat people matters. Deal with others well, and you will be dealt with well. Care about others. Take a genuine interest in them, and they will reciprocate. The Bible says, “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all taught in the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12 – New Living Translation). I always remind people that we will be remembered not for what we did but for how we treated others.
If you walk the talk, defuse contentious situations, and know that the “how” matters more than the “what,” you will become a leader others will want to follow.
Do you want to level up your leadership skills? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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Our manager, Kevin, suddenly charged into the room and sat down at the conference table.
“Okay, let’s see what you’ve got!” he exclaimed.
“Hi, Kevin. How are you today?” I said with a smile, trying to lighten his mood and begin our meeting on a positive note.
Kevin replied, “I don’t have time today for small talk. Let’s go through your presentation and determine the next steps.”
Over the next 15 minutes, Peter, my teammate, and I presented three different promotional displays to Kevin. We discussed the construction, benefits, and potential cost of each display. Kevin seemed to like the options and asked how we could gain national customer team feedback.
The conversation came up once before, and I recommended using an internet survey. Kevin turned it down the first time. During this discussion, I thought I’d revisit the survey option. After I mentioned it, Kevin shook his head and said, “Nope, already rejected.”
I gently pushed back and asked him to reconsider. I began my response with, “I don’t mean to challenge you, but….”
Not good. As soon as the words left my mouth, Kevin’s face turned red; he slammed his computer shut and shouted: “But you are challenging me, and I don’t appreciate it!” Throwing a tantrum, he got up and began to walk out of the room. Wanting to solve the issue, I followed him out the door. I asked Kevin to wait a moment and told him that I was just trying to make a suggestion. I told him I didn’t appreciate being treated that way, especially in front of a team member.
Kevin said, “Are you going to confront me in the hallway right now?”
“No,” I said, staring at the floor. He told me we’d talk later and walked away. I went home deflated.
The following day, Kevin called me into his office. When I arrived, he asked me to sit down. Then he said, “I am going to tell you some things, and you cannot respond.”
I looked at him inquisitively and thought, “I’m in for it; this can’t be good.” He was about to give me feedback. He told me that he wanted me to think about it and then we’d talk again. So, I sat in silence, ready to listen.
“Preston, I was relatively easy on you yesterday. Other executives would have torn you to shreds.”
“Really?” I thought to myself.
“You’re not helping me, you’re not being a team player, and you don’t listen well. You’ve got to change, or you’ll be out of a job.” I held my tongue, honoring his request, and thanked him for the feedback.
I walked away from the conversation madder than a hornet. I was highly offended. I’d worked very hard, accomplished so much, but Kevin always marginalized me. Kevin retaliated by implying my job was in jeopardy. A molehill was made into a mountain, and I resented Kevin for it. As a matter of fact, I resented Kevin and his management style for the two years I worked on his team. My constant feelings of bitterness were taking their toll. What was I going to do?
All leaders experience resentment from time to time. What is resentment? It’s an emotion that wells up inside when you feel like you’ve been mistreated or offended. Hard feelings, frustration or anger, can come from any number of sources, including not gaining someone’s respect, not receiving appreciation for a job well done, not being assigned to a special project, being passed over for a promotion, an unspoken apology, or rejection. Resentment is the most toxic of all emotions because it can lead to anger, hate, discord, divorce, aggressive driving, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bankruptcy, and even violence.
If you hold a grudge against someone, the bitterness will fester inside and eventually destroy you. It begins as an emotional trigger and, if harbored, will become a mood impacting behavior. Resentment is a heavy burden you carry, affecting your relationships and health. As the adage goes, “Bitterness is the poison one swallows as he or she hopes the other person dies.”
If resentment is so dangerous, what is the antidote? Forgiveness. If you forgive someone, you stop blaming him or her for the offense. You let go and move on. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
How do you forgive someone? Employ the four steps to forgiveness:
- Acknowledge your anger, then drop it and move on. It’s okay to be angry but don’t allow it to last. Let go of the anger when offended or wronged by someone. Don’t harbor it. Anger can lead to hate and violence. Resentment will break you unless you break it first. Put down the poison and move on.
- Stand in their shoes. Realize that everyone is perfectly imperfect. The Christian leader remembers God forgave them, and that same mercy should be shown to others.
- Respond with good, not revenge. Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Ask God to change your heart and enable you to return the offense with a positive reaction. Practice the Golden Rule – do to others as you’d have them do to you. Remember, love is patient, kind, and doesn’t seek its own way.
- Pray. Ask God to forgive you and enable you to forgive the one who offended you.
Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment for years. I often dwell on circumstances and people when I feel disenfranchised, demoralized, or undignified. In the above story, I let my manager get the best of me. I should have taken responsibility for my words and actions. I didn’t need to challenge Kevin after he’d made a decision or chase him into the hallway to confront him. I needed to exercise more self-control and give him space. It would have been better if I’d approached him later, apologized, and asked how I could help; personal leadership lessons learned that I applied to future situations.
The good news is that I recognized the impact bitterness was having on me and those around me. I discovered that the best antidote to resentment is forgiveness. I let go of my grudge, and my well-being improved tremendously; I no longer felt the weight of bitterness. I found that my mental outlook improved, relationships healed, and I felt much better.
How about you? Do you resent someone? Are you holding a grudge? If so, how is it impacting you? What will happen if you continue holding on to the resentment? Are you willing to forgive the individual? Why not forgive that someone today? If you do, your well-being will improve, your relationships will heal, and you’ll be a more successful leader.
Want to learn more about becoming a leader others will gladly follow? Visit my website, prestonpoore.com, today!
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I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
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