Can Effective Supervision be like a Strong Marriage?

22I’ve been coaching a very nice young man, Sam, who is a highly motivated employee in a company that works in the security industry. Sam is one of the company stars. He is well respected by management and his colleagues. Recently, he was promoted to a manager level position that required first line supervision of a small staff. Shortly after his promotion, upper level management received complaints that Sam was bossy and his temper flared frequently. His employees complained repeatedly of his constant micromanagement. Sam was in need of help. Fortunately for everyone, Sam responded positively to the suggestion that he have a coach. We were off to a good start.

Sam admitted right off that he had a temper and that he felt a strong need to micromanage. This was not a good combination, since his temper could get him into a lot of trouble some day and micromanagement was sending a strong message that he didn’t trust his staff. No wonder there were complaints. Sam was interested in learning how to change the situation.

We started with communication, specifically the role that active listening has in effective communication. Sam worked hard in role playing with me to work on how to pause and absorb the message being conveyed, how to ask open questions, how to follow up and then pause again before giving his opinion. It didn’t take long for Sam to recognize an improvement in his interactions with the employees. Additionally, these techniques kept his temper in check because he took more time to reflect and get perspective.

Working with Sam to decrease his micromanagement tendencies was difficult, since the work of his team required a high level of accuracy in a tense work environment. Errors had serious consequences, and Sam felt strongly that his constant oversight would ensure accuracy. We reviewed the skills and accuracy rate of each employee on his team to determine whether Sam really needed to constantly monitor their work. We reviewed how each employee reported results to Sam to determine if he should refine the reporting system in order to keep current with results without hovering. It turned out that Sam had a highly functioning team and that his constant oversight had minimal effect on improving accuracy. He began to realize, however, that his micromanagement had a significant effect on the morale of his team. Looking at his staff from an analytical perspective gave Sam the skills to review this information on his own without having to revert to unnecessary micromanagement.


[message type=”simple”]One day before we began our meeting, Sam asked, how can I transfer these skills to my marriage?[/message]


Any chance I can bring my wife to the next session? He had a delightful grin as he asked these questions and we both had that smile and nod that comes when two people know some things to be true.

So how is effective supervision like a strong marriage?

  • Both situations require active listening and the desire to learn the other person’s point of view.
  • Neither person in either situation likes to be micromanaged. It sends a bad message – I don’t trust you or I can do it better.
  • For both situations to flourish there needs to be a sense of respect and a desire to help the other person succeed.



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