I Know What I'm Doing.
Updated: Dec 13, 2019
By Crystal Childs, Vice President, DiStefano Group
Years ago, I had a wonderful boss. Really, he was delightful. Very much like a father-figure. He was kind, treated me like his own child and really listened when I had problems arise at work. He was great to work for.
But all good bosses have their quirks right?
For the most part, he didn't micromanage. You know the micromanaging type - they feel they need to control every part, of every project. They basically don’t trust the very people they hired to do the job. That type. He didn't do that.
Except for when you didn't take notes.
We had a weekly staff meeting and every week our department came equipped with note books, pens, notes from last meeting, notes from the week's progress, success stories, potential problems for the following week. We were prepared. We were an organized and thorough bunch. There was never a ball that got dropped, a task that slipped through the cracks. We were on-point.
As he spoke and led our meetings, we feverishly jotted down notes we felt we needed. They were notes to ourselves, obviously. Notes as reminders, information for the future, things we felt we would forget or would need to reference in the future. Historically, notes are for your eyes only, not that they're confidential, but your notes are generally notes that you know you need. An information system that works for you. If we felt it was a topic we fully-understood, already knew the answer to, or simply wouldn't forget - we didn't jot it down. Naturally.
That's when his quirk reared its ugly head.
If we weren't taking notes on a topic that he knew he needed to take notes on, he often said, "jot that down." And we never did - mostly out of protest.
Sometimes however, he'd be a little more adamant, "write this down" he'd say, while pointing at our notebook. He'd pause, stare with eyebrows raised, waiting for us to pick up our pen before he continued. I assure you, nine times out of ten it was nothing that we had to write down. We did it anyway. To comply, to calm his anxiety.
That's all it was, his anxiety that he was projecting onto us. He knew if he didn't write it down, he'd forget. But newsflash managers and executives - you hire smart people for a reason. Trust them to do their job and don't tell them how to do it. If you can't trust they will remember minor details without having to say ”write it down", why did you hire them? Why are they currently working for you?
Telling someone to "write this down" is an insult.
This tells me you don't trust me to get it right - to get the job done. Unless your staff has given you reason to believe they will not follow through, that a ball will get dropped, that a detail will be forgotten, give them the benefit of the doubt. You have enough to worry about, you shouldn't be worrying about what your team is or isn’t writing in their notebook.
Trust me, I know what I'm doing. And so do they.