After more than twenty years of coaching and staffing in the construction and development industries, I have noticed oftentimes when many people report to the same executive, one person will report that the executive is a micro-manager, while others will describe him as a great leader who coaches and empowers them. After conversing further, I typically find that the one who felt micromanaged completed his job like the other two, although expected his superior to always ask him about the result versus taking the communication lead.  Too often the one who felt micromanaged is in my office seeking a job after being let go.  They are confused as to why that happened, for in their hearts they thought they did their job properly. Why were their executives displeased with their performance? Most likely because of the employee’s communication style.

Most executives and managers in construction, are dominant personalities.  Many of them speak little unless they need to communicate detail on something important or are in a social setting.  They are often excellent at communicating about what is required for a project along with what everyone’s tasks will be.  They always keep their superiors informed, and this trait is most likely what drove them to executive leadership.

How do you find out if they are a micromanager or not? 

Start taking the lead with your communications.  Notice what your superiors are frequently asking you about.  Once you determine this, take the lead on this issue and communicate with them about your progress.

D personality styles operate in a way that ensures they never lose control or autonomy. They like to be informed.  They do like suggestions on how to better go about something.  Just be prepared for D’s to challenge you and respond back with their thoughts (see our article about D Personality Style).

When communicating with the D style, give them the bottom line. Be brief, focus your discussion narrowly, avoid generalizing, refrain from repeating yourself, and focus on solutions rather than problems.  They like (for instance) when you tell them a project will be done by 4:00 and you get it done by 3:00 instead without sacrificing accuracy.  If you carbon copy them on the submittal, they won’t necessarily read the content. It just shows your superior the item inquired about is completed.  You can do the same thing with an email that says in the subject line. “Glass and Glazing submittal, XYZ project”.  In the body of the email: “Completed. Sent to Jim for review.”

You may not receive any detailed acknowledgment for your email, and if your superior is not good at checking his emails, make sure you learn his preferred communication style.

I guarantee you if you start your relationship by keeping your superior informed (rather than letting them wonder about the status on something), over time you will build their trust.

Are you taking the lead in communication, rather than being annoyed when they ask?  We are an industry of results. Speaking as one of those Dominant personalities myself, we hate asking twice, and once we know we can count on someone, we will want them on our team always.

This is construction, a team sport.  Keep your coach and teammates informed of your significant plays, especially those they inquired.  I guarantee you it will prevent you from being benched or feeling micromanaged.

To Empowerment through Communication,

Suzanne Breistol

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