The antidote to overcontrol in the work place

It takes an honest person to admit that they overcontrol at work. Maybe you know someone who has received this feedback? Maybe someone has confided in you that their team are not working at their best? They may have even suggested that their overcontrolling style of micro-management could be contributing to this?

One thing is for sure, not many staff find it motivating or helpful. Luckily, an answer to overcontrolling can be to develop a coaching style of management. This involves learning how to ask questions rather than issuing an instruction, or even more abrasive, continually checking on an individual’s progress. A coaching style of management is a better alternative to explore.

How can a coaching style be helpful?

Let’s look at how to delegate a task. It’s tempting to just tell your team-mate what you want done, when by, and to describe the resources that will be available.

However, put yourself in their shoes. Rather than be told exactly how to do something, how much more motivated would you be to discover for yourself a more efficient, more creative or more satisfying way of completing the task?

Here’s the rub. What makes you happy, probably does the opposite for your team member. What helps you to feel in control, probably makes them feel demotivated and small. Your grand plan to develop your staff to do more may be falling apart with each passing second.

Questions you can use to coach when delegating tasks:

1) Discuss the purpose of what is needed – and encourage their point of view.

  • What do you think needs to be achieved here?
  • What are the most important aspects of this goal in your opinion?

2) Use open questions to help your team member take ownership (these are questions that encourage the person to contemplate and explore, rather than answer yes or no).

  • How could we be more creative?
  • What do you think the customer values the most from us, how can we achieve this?

3) Ask your team member to describe the processes to move forward. This keeps the responsibility and the momentum with them.

  • What are the timescales and milestones?
  • How shall we touch base in case of possible changes?

Just one question can tilt a conversation in a different way and give you far better results. And just as importantly, give the team member a more meaningful and rewarding experience. Try putting these techniques into action, and you’ll see the results very quickly.

For more tips on questioning and communicating with your team, check out our infographic:

Five Essential Communication Skills for Managers

Three tips to deal with Conflict

Effective Communication Skills – Three tips to deal with Conflict


Wouldn’t it be great if we could choose who we wanted to work with? Yet we have differences in personality, culture and working style, or a clash of competing objectives or even disagreements over solutions. The list of reasons why conflict occurs can be as long as your arm.

Therefore the ability to deal with conflict is a critical soft skill for Managers who lead and coordinate teams.

This article will give you three practical tips to help you deal with conflict in the workplace and maximise performance, thereby increasing productivity.

1. Use the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes Instrument (TKI)
DEALING WITH CONFLICT – The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes Instrument





The Thomas-Kilmann or TKI Instrument is probably the most well-known conflict management tool and is made up of the following five techniques, as shown in the diagram.

  1. Competing
  2. Compromising
  3. Avoiding
  4. Accommodating
  5. Collaborating

Depending on the situation and style of those involved you can use different levels of assertiveness and collaboration to resolve the situation. No one technique is better than the other, it depends entirely on the situation you are in and who you are dealing with. What it indicates is that your style you use should suit different people and different situations.

2. Improve your listening skills

If you work on your listening skills this will improve your ability to deal with conflict. Listening seems like a basic skill but actually it is much harder that it seems, especially in the modern age with the advent of mobile phones and social media to distract us.

Listening is one of those skills we were never taught at school to use effectively. Viral TED speaker and sound expert Julian Treasure argues that ‘we are losing our listening’ and in this video, he gives several useful ways to improve our listening skills.

3. Ask open questions  

Open questions are an effective tool to understand how the other person or party is feeling and will help you avoid assumptions, a common mistake when conflict occurs.

Avoid the habit of asking closed questions: those that can only be answered yes or no. Although any excellent way of summarising information, these two words generally fail to promote conversation.

Open questions, on the other hand, promote many benefits:

  • You can encourage the other person to reveal more and help solve the conflict
  • It may allow people to ‘vent’ and help ease tension.
  • Open questions can help place you in the other persons shoes.
  • The other person will feel that you are listening with empathy.

dealing with conflict - communication skills

As markets expand and pressure on competition increases, the sheer weight of demands and stresses on a business will be continually tested.

The ability of management to be able to deal with conflict in a way which replaces ill-feeling with trust, at the same time raising reputations, will not only build current relationships, it will attract new ones.

Can you really afford to slam the door on the next internal argument?