We all have worked with our fair share of this version of an oxymoron. To say this person resists change is an understatement. They hate change so much they want it to bite the curb while they stomp with all their incompetent power. We see this person as an arrogant asshole that thinks they know-it-all.
When we end up with this oxymoron on our teams we give them the tasks they are asking for, slowly implement any new policy or procedure with the softest kid’s gloves possible and regularly apply grease to this squeaky wheel. Some of us have tried to instill humility in this person only to have it backfire. We see them as emotional wet mop and try to fix it through giving them exactly what makes them worse, accommodation through ignoring the real problem.
Accommodating our employees is something we have to do as long as we have direct reports. The problem occurs when color with the wrong crayon. For this doubtfully confident employee is that we blind to the source of their projection of extreme confidence: they actually have zero confidence.
In many workplaces we put too much emphasis on hard skills when determining who to promote or hire. Naturally, these busy bees end up managing others because if they are good at getting the tasks of the job done, they must be a likely fit for management right? While we view this hiring or promotion decision as giving this person a chance to shine, we are doing them the worst disservice of their career. We actually set them up to fail miserably.
The doubtfully confident manager projects so much self-assurance as a survival technique. In truth, they are scared to death because they have no clue of what they’re doing. Perfecting hard skills is what got them promoted in the first place so they stick to what they know. In return, they resist change because they doubt their ability to succeed.
We need to invest the time in teaching this person the soft skills they so desperately need. Instead of forcing them into situations they are not ready for, slowly give them tasks that will develop these skills. A great example is when this person is forced to discipline their staff. They bring us the worst documentation possible (if they document at all) and are flabbergasted when we tell them how wrong they are. Here’s a thought, did we ever take the time to show them how to discipline an employee? Not what words to write but how to have the conversation? Did we champion their need to participate in any professional development courses?
As HR Pros it is easy to point the finger but at the end of the day, it is on us. The soul of what HR should be has nothing to do with benefits, payroll or employment law. Those are just the add-ons that we cannot get away from. Our real purpose is the people. They need professional development more than they need the best health care plan on the market.
Take the time today to recognize the oxymoron and give your leaders strategies on how to serve them best.