Guidance vs. micromanaging

I spend an awful lot of my time doing consulting and teaching in some leadership classes and I have found something that I wanted to share today.

Now those folks who are local and know me, know that I went through the ranks way too fast and was an officer way before I should have been. They also know that not unlike others, I was convinced that I knew everything!

Thank God, that with some age there does come some wisdom!

In many leadership classes I am teaching I m hearing young officers and firefighters speak about being allowed to make decisions and not being “micro-managed”. Now on this subject I speak with some authority because I am micromanaged in many facets of my life on a regular basis, so while not an expert, I do have some history!

I think that all people generally resist being coached and guided. We all believe that we are comfortable with our job and our ability to handle any given situation, but in reality I think we all need some guidance from time to time, and the benefit of having someone share a previous bad experience.

With that being said, then maybe as leaders we should look at the way we attempt to guide those that we are mentoring to be better officers. If the decision they are attempting to make is not life safety or life changing for them or the other parties involved, allow them to make a simple mistake. They will learn! Then don’t run around and say I told you so, but be there to offer possible “options” on how that can be handled “differently” in the future. That is one technique. There are many others.

The other thing I never learned as a young rowdy officer was that I did not even have enough life experience to make some of these personnel decisions. I just simply had not been exposed at that time. I now look at some of these folks who have come into the fire service who maybe have been to paramedic school, been taught about being the sole person responsible for life and death, being taught to operate independently under a protocol, and then jammed into a fire service filled with tradition of team, partner, paramilitary and discipline and procedure, and wonder why we have some bumps grinds and failures. Some of young folks feel they are capable of any decision, but have not been exposed yet.

When we teach in these classes about how to make decisions, we need to teach and focus much more attention on the consequences of decisions. By doing this we truly are offering guidance rather than being micro managers.

We should really strive to be more like mentors, and examples so that people will emulate us, rather than to tell everyone how much better we can do their job instead of them. The old saying is true…People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care. If you care for your people you will guide them. If you want to show them how much of a genius you think you are you will micro-manage every detail.
See I will give you latitude, you decide which way you want to go.

I truly believe new and young officers can benefit from guidance, and we should be patient with their resistance to our suggestion, but we must continue to guide them rather than to over supervise.

Recent negative experiences in my life have caused me to pause and reflect and be sure that I am a source of guidance, and valued resource, and a place to turn for those that work with me. This whole experience of inner reflection has been good for me.

Try it for yourself,……I promise I won’t tell you how to do it !

Pete Lamb
Copyright 2013