Training Badge
Submitted by cim44 on


This is a topic covered in the most recent "Things" newsletter (excerpt below)

Its something I think I do to at least some extent (I'm pretty sure my directs think I do it... but they've been under- / un-managed in the past).

How do you know if you are doing it and how do you avoid it?

"Adding Too Much Value
One of my favorite parts of What Got You Here Won’t Get You There is called “Adding Too Much Value.”  The boss who does this always has to point out something that can be improved in someone else’s work, or new idea.  She sees it as helping something be better, getting to perfect.  But it rarely works that way.  It’s just seen as putting someone else in their place, and showing off your smarts. 
I do it some times, and when I’m self aware enough to notice, gosh I hate it.  So selfish.  Don’t do as I do."





cynaus's picture
Training Badge

How do I know I am doing it?  One of my directs said I was "micro managing". Though she's wrong on that call when I asked her what she meant, I saw that it was exactly what Mark described in Things this week.  

How do I avoid it?  I have to admit, it's difficult and being a High D/I, inheriting a seriously under-performing team, I *know* how I can get them from zero to 80 pretty quickly. I backed off though and concentrated more on building the relationships in the one on ones and offering recommendations according to their DISC profile (it's the High S and High C that gets upset and frustrated respectively ;) 

Finding the balance between pointing something out and performance managing is tricky.  I would have said I was setting clear expectations and pointing out when those weren't being met; but I have a feeling I may not have been as clear as I could have been in setting the expectations in the first place. (I *think* I've told them but it could be something I've run in my head a dozen times!)  Or the team just aren't taking me seriously. They have said I'm the best manager they've had in a long time; and I suspect they think I'm also a bit OTT at times. The one who complained has been in the exact same role for 20+ years. I mean *exactly* the same role. Doing the same things, the same way. I've recommended a lot of change in the last 6-9 months (after my first 3 months in the role ;) and I acknowledge it's been hard for them AND they have to improve. 

I'm struggling with feedback (just on the positive!). I'm looking forward to the conference so I can get some practice in. That will help immensely!

So, how am I going to work more at avoiding it?  Setting clear expectations, continue building the relationships, let go a little bit (if they're getting better we're already ahead), allow them to improve while setting reminders about those expectations. Eventually we can get into coaching which I think will be clincher here. 

I wish you well..... let us know how you go :)









rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

We all do this...

I think the warning by Marshall Goldsmith is not for people in situations in which nothing changed for the last 20 years. You will need to ignite some fire in such situations. What Goldsmith says is meant for those situations where someone actually shows initiative. When that happens, and you "add too much value", you actually discourage the person from taking further initiative later. What's the point for someone to come with an idea if you always know better anyway?

When someone comes with a suggestion for a process improvement, something to try, a proposal for a new piece of equipment, our instincts tell us "Wow, great, we can make it slightly better". Goldsmith says: "don't", because by adding anything you are stealing the idea from the other person. It becomes your idea. If you just say "great, try that" you will have an 80% perfect plan executed with fire. If you add your 2 cents, you will have a 95% perfect plan that is executed at a much lower energy level and with diminished satisfaction.

Goldsmith gave a lecture at Google once that can be found on youtube: 

He gives good examples...

cim44's picture
Training Badge

Thanks both for your answers.

Cynaus - I have a couple of employees in the same transactional job for 6 or 7 years (not 20 though!).  The issue I feel I have is that even if they can do that job reasonably well, it take a lot for them to adapt to a new situation.  As a senior manager (and I'd like to think close to manager of managers... but who knows pfft) I have to admit some of my frustration is that I just don't want to deal with this sort of thing any more.  Oh well - I can accept reality or not... ;)

RWWH - very useful points.  It annoys me when my boss makes minor adjustments to my work, so my directs would be no different (to an extent).  I just think "really, you bring up issues and that's the best you have?"  I will have to take a look at that video.

cynaus's picture
Training Badge

EEK!  OK, one of my directs just came to me with a draft of a letter they'd written on a particularly sensitive matter to a particularly sensitive group of employees.  I changed (I want to say "had to change") the grammar, punctuation and also reworded a couple of paragraphs so that it moved from passive voice to a more direct tone. I could have let it be, however allowing the letter to go out as drafted would have been a) ineffective and b) embarrassing for that person and other reasons I can't get into here. We have some work to do together to get that person up to standard and we've been having those conversations recently - we still have a way to go and next step will be for me to implement the feedback model (which will ramp up post conference later this month!)

After I changed the letter and gave it back, I immediately realised my mistake and apologised for messing with their letter.  I acknowledged that I tend to jump in quickly and just try to ‘fix’ it up. I realised I probably should have asked that person some questions around how they might have been able to improve the tone of the letter for it to be more direct and revisit the grammar and punctuation.  I told them I sincerely didn't mean for it to feel like they are being micro managed.  I guess I felt like maybe they could learn from the changes I made.  But it’s possibly not the best way to get that message across. I've suggested we chat about improving this area and perhaps look at some alternative ways for me to address this with them – rather than for me to jump in and re-write their stuff.  Oh god, maybe I am micro managing? How awful!

OK - update: the direct came back to me and said all was good and they appreciated the feedback on the letter, acknowledging that it doesn't read well and it's not their strong point.  I think a business writing skill course may be in this person's future :)

cim44's picture
Training Badge

I'd suggest that the error that you made was assigning a sensitive letter drafting to this inexperienced person, not so much the micromanaging (I would consider it review!) after the fact.  Its likely a good practice to have multiple people review sensitive communications.  Don't be too hard on yourself here!

Its ok to assign it to the person to take the first cut but it needs to come with the expectation that its going to be torn apart later! (someone has to do the first draft).