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Six Reasons You May be a Helicopter Manager

Six Reasons You May be a Helicopter Manager


We’ve all heard of helicopter parents. They’re those annoying parents that constantly hover and prevent their children from learning to deal with life’s challenges for themselves. Then, these children grow into young adults who are woefully ill-prepared to cope with the realities of an adult working environment.

However annoying, though real, helicopter parents are, helicopter managers are equally, if not more annoying. Helicopter managers hover and prevent their employees from thinking and making decisions, solving problems, and consistently increasing their marketable skills.

“Helicopter managers hover and prevent their employees from thinking and making decisions, solving problems, and consistently increasing their marketable skills.”

What causes managers to hover and become helicopter managers? From my experience, managers often confuse being nice with “helicoptering.” If you intentionally focus on trying to be a nice manager instead of an effective manager (who is nice), you invariably display one, two, or more of these six helicopter manager behaviors:

  1. You can’t let go.

    You don’t trust that your employees can do the work correctly or as well as you can do it yourself, so you don’t let go of it. You continue to do the tasks your employees are being paid to do. You train them not to do the work they’re being paid to do, and you thereby limit their marketable skills.

  2. You’re an enabler.

    You give rewards without them having been earned. You inflate performance review ratings and you reward employees with undeserved bonuses such as perfect attendance. You provide bonuses for things that are already basic expectations of their jobs. You cause them to have an over-inflated perception of their skills and marketability.

  3. You’re the mediator.

    You resolve their interpersonal conflicts for them without coaching them how to talk through issues with each other. You don’t teach them how to bridge differences and build stronger relationships. You limit their interpersonal, social, and team skills.

  4. You’re the problem fixer.

    You fix their mistakes and the problems they create. You don’t teach them how to think about consequences and to think through problems to identify ways to fix them themselves. You teach them to continue to be dependent upon you to be the problem-fixer. You stifle their critical thinking and problem solving skills.

  5. You don’t trust them or respect their decisions.

    You reverse decisions they’ve made or require they get your approval before any final decision is made. You don’t enable them to learn how to think through the decision-making process and take responsibility for the decisions made – good or bad. You don’t allow them to face — for themselves — the consequences of a poor decision.

  6. You don’t hold them accountable.

    You back away from holding an employee accountable for their own choices and actions. As soon as they whine, argue, cry, or offer an excuse, you back off and tell yourself you’re probably overreacting and being too harsh. You feel guilty for their poor behavior. You tolerate their poor behavior and allow it to disrupt your entire team.

How did you do?

Are you a helicopter manager who is stifling your employees’ growth or are you a manager who is allowing your employees and their skills to soar?



Copyright MMXV – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890

Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!

Liz Weber CMCLiz Weber, CMC CSP

Liz Weber coaches, consults, and trains leadership teams. She specializes in strategic and succession planning, and leadership development.

Liz is one of fewer than 100 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) designations.

Contact Liz’s office at +1.717.597.8890 for more info on how Liz can help you, or click here to have Liz’s office contact you.

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Posted by Liz Weber CMC on May 19, 2015 in Leadership Development, WBS and tagged , ,