MYOB: How To Avoid Becoming A Nosey Manager

Photo By Glen Carrie

So, we’re spending 8 hours a day, 7 days a week (or more) with our team in the office or (as is increasingly the case these days) remotely.

Sometimes we go out for lunch, for dinner, maybe some drinks on a Friday payday, for team building events and reviews.

We know everyone’s significant others — definitely the official ones and sometimes those you could describe as ‘unofficial’.

We know their likes, dislikes, sports teams, hobbies, families. Indeed, your work colleagues soon resemble your second family and quite often, it’s that second family which dominates the majority of your time.

Then, a line gets crossed. It might only be a small shift by the manager, but the imbalance of power means it’s a significant shift for the subordinate.

The invites become more personal.
The intrusion more overt.

And for the junior members in a team, they might have made arrangements to do something else but because it’s a line manager, they feel they can’t say no to a request for coffee, or social event or even just staying late.

We’re not talking about more sinister motives here, just that shift from team building and camaraderie, to pressure and prying.

Of course, drawing the line is something subjective. Personal connections outside the office are inevitable and should be encouraged when you spend so much time together in the office.

The issue here is when it comes to a point where the distinction between work and personal life becomes blurred. When a manager forgets about or starts to impinge on personal lives as well.

In most countries, privacy is a serious matter and legislation in place to protect the individual.

You shouldn’t have to give out your birthday freely to your Human Resources Personnel.
You can’t have unexpected calls from telemarketers.

Recent legislation in Europe (GDPR) gave consumers more control on their data.

But within the work environment, power and privacy becomes a messier dynamic.

We heard of one boss actually stalking an employee into the hospital when she called in sick, and staying for the entire time the procedure was carried out. OK, that’s weird but also situations where some managers call up doctors and relatives.

Learning how to become a CTO or tech leader, understanding how to separate the professional from the personal is a key part of learning how to become a CTO and tech leader.

They are not yours.
They are definitely not your kids or spouse or parents.

They are people hired to work with you during an agreed time and space.

If you nailed your recruitment process, they should be a great fit regardless of which, respect goes both ways and respect for personal space and a private life should be embedded into your work practices.

There is a set agreed time for each staff member. You need to stick with it. Unless there’s a business that needs to extend hours in exceptional circumstances, then you should be insisting that hours are mandatory.

Even if you’ve created relationships outside work, the moment the clock says “it’s time for home” , you should not be insisting or putting pressure on other activities. When they log-out, it’s their time even if they choose to stay inside the office premises.

However, some managers can abuse the “business need” clause in a contract and hold long events after work — we’ve all suffered that, so try to avoid imposing.

The results are often negative. Tired and frustrated staff and complications for their family life.

If there’s a need for them to extend hours because of work, if you want to invite them for tea, karaoke on a Saturday night, sit with them during lunch, or have personal information — always ask permission and ensure no pressure is being applied.

And as a good manager, you will understand and read your team. You will know that everyone needs handling differently and it’s those subtleties in management, that separate the good to work for, from the terrible.

For example with breaks, some people prefer to eat alone to read a book or they’re just comfortable eating alone. Ask them if it’s their alone time and if not, if you are welcome to join them. If it’s their alone time, just find your happy place elsewhere.

It’s very normal these days for managers to track everyone’s social media, just to know if there are any company breaches like leaking client information.

Stop right there.

Just check for company breaches. You don’t need to know each and every detail of your colleague’s life. You don’t need to comment on his skewed preference for women. You don’t need to call them out for their political preferences.

In most cases, Facebook posts are a common cause of petty feuds in the working environment simply because we have our own biases and we refuse to let go of our guards when topics that we are all passionate about are under interrogation.

Unless the behaviour misrepresents the company gravely or unless they are cyber bullying you or a colleague, then you should be making no comments. If an issue is something of concern to you as their professional manager, report it to Human Resources.

Hey and you have a responsibility to them as well, for their welfare.

If you spot signs that indicate they’re in a dark place and/or need some help, reach out. We know this seems like a contradiction, to be interfering, but we’re talking here about clear signals of personal distress. React as a human, not as a manager.

Mind your own business and be professional.

Focus on your team goals and the support they require to deliver.

Remember also that work shouldn’t be your life.

Focus on your own family and friends outside of work and you’ll find it easier to be empathetic with others who have those priorities.

When work is intense and fun, it can take over our lives and where we sometimes forget about the people we go home too.

Like our colleagues who are trying to juggle work and their personal lives, our families and friends experience low morale when we spend more time at work.

Good management is definitely about understanding and respecting that line, it’s also about managing your own time and personal space, ensuring you don’t intrude into others.

Leadership and Management Skills for Global Tech Leaders and Managers.