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Stop Mowing! In January?

by Shandy McLean ASEBP | January 24 2019 | 1 Comment

As a people manager, I’m often inspired by articles and posts on LinkedIn. There’s no shortage of thought-provoking reads and memes to pore over! A few weeks ago, I read an article about avoiding micromanaging that really spoke to me. The risk of micromanaging is something I am very aware of because I LOVE to help—and know that sometimes I’m at risk of getting over-involved in my team’s work, in parenting my teenagers or while trying to support my partner or friends during challenging times.

I’m guessing that workplace wellness champions aren’t immune to micromanaging either. Mowing over your fellow workplace wellness champions or committee members with your own ideas for how they should do something is like well-intentioned helicopter parenting. Your over involvement (a.k.a. micromanaging) usually comes from good intentions (you want everyone and everything to succeed!) but ultimately makes everyone, including you, feel frustrated. What’s worse, if left unchecked, you can create an environment where your fellow champions are feeling unmotivated and disengaged from the important work that brought you all to the table in the first place—creating a healthy, supportive school workplace environment.

Fear of Failure—Let it Go

Being an advocate for workplace wellness isn’t a small task. Healthy workplaces are often made possible by champions with seemingly limitless enthusiasm and commitment, but with few dedicated resources. I get it. No one wants to fail or needlessly waste those precious resources (time, money or energy). But if your fear of failure means your whole team has to experience you frequently jumping in to ‘solve’ problems or make corrections, over-agonizing about every idea or task and constantly wanting updates to reassure you everything is going according to (your) plan, you might be mowing over your team. 

Make Space for Others

Is your employer using a committee to work on wellness? Lucky you! Working with a mix of people can bring new ideas and energy—provided the other team members (I’m talking to you) create enough space for everyone to be part of the solution in a way that’s meaningful and fulfilling for them. Not doing so could stifle creative ideas and insights that could mean the difference between an engaging and effective workplace wellness strategy and one that is only ho-hum or falls flat. And don’t forget, people who feel that they can’t make their best contribution are more likely to find other places/issues to make a difference. Moving this work forward needs all hands, and ideas, on deck.

Don’t be Afraid to Self-Correct

If this speaks to you, remember that being a good human got you here in the first place—and being a good human can help get you back on the right track. If you catch yourself overstepping (a.k.a. telling colleagues ‘how’ to do every task instead of leaving space for different approaches that may result in awesome results), call out your own behaviour. Apologize. Self-correct. A simple, “sorry, let’s try that again. I’d like to know how you think we should approach this (task/activity/problem)” will go a long way. Then, listen to what your fellow wellness champion teammate has to contribute.

Stepping out of over-stepping is a learned behaviour—and one that will get better with practice. You can do it!

Shandy McLean

With a background in social work and a masters in health promotion, “Shamu” (yes, like the whale) is a tireless advocate in the public health arena and ASEBP’s former director of Health Strategies and Stakeholder Engagement. We know that her questionable claims of being “related” to actress Claire Danes is a way of coping with her crippling fear of sharks. But it’s okay—we’re all in this together, Shamu.

Lorna M. Alberta Health Services - @albertahealthservices.ca | February 4 2019 2:38 PM
I enjoyed your blog Shandy... it's an important reminder to let others demonstrate their leadership skills. "Leaders emerge when we step back".