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Warning: being a Fixer can seriously impair others’ ability to make judgements

By February 20, 2024Leadership
Someone micromanaging another member of their team

Confession time – are you a manager and also a bit of a Fixer? Do you like to run a tight ship and keep a close eye? Whether you manage projects, people or both, you love that warm, fuzzy feeling of having solved someone else’s problem, taking a burden off their shoulders, making it your problem and then fixing it – that’s what Fixers do. And it’s an act with honourable intent, yet it often has unexpected consequences.

A number of recent coaching sessions with a range of individuals has shown up a pattern. Each of these people is able, skilled and experienced – a real asset to their team. And each has been managed by a Fixer. Or in some cases, let’s call it what it was – micromanagement. This has resulted in these individuals doubting their own judgement in the job they do so well. The constant dictating solutions, checking up, taking stuff off them, not to mention red-penning their work (yes, really) has stolen away their ability to think for themselves and make choices confidently, even when a part of them knows they are good choices. Instead, their energy goes in to tying themselves up in knots trying to second guess what their manager wants and worrying all the time that they’ll be wrong. And then getting told that they are. This is not good.

Coaching sessions can help build people’s ability to value their own judgement again, but it takes time. If you manage others and know yourself to be a Fixer and also know your fixing is fast becoming micro-managing, here’s what you can do to speed up the process:
Stop doing it!

But apart from that, also:

  1. Learn coaching skills. We can help you with that. All managers should have them and they give you a whole new perspective on managing and developing others. Coaching is about listening, asking powerful questions and helping individuals solve their own problems using their judgement rather than yours.
  2. Realise your standards are just that – your standards. They may be appropriate for the job; they may not be. Just because you did it that way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way to do it. They may even be a bit out of date, so open yourself up to other approaches and only impose standards or ways of working where they are widely recognised by your profession as the only way to do things.
  3. Decide to get that warm, fuzzy feeling from something other than fixing. At some point in your career, you were given freedom to develop your own judgement and that’s why you’re credible now. Give that gift to your team by empowering them, letting them get on with it and yes sometimes, allowing them to fail. That’s how they will learn (or re-learn) to trust their own view and make decisions with confidence.
  4. Destroy the red pen.