So Now You're a Manager. Don't Freak Out.

It has occurred to me lately that I probably should get paid for all the personal coaching work that I do. Although, I have to admit, I don’t have any official “credentials” as a coach, and quite frankly, if I were getting paid for it, I probably wouldn’t enjoy it nearly as much.

So, from the nonexistent files of my entirely-unofficial coaching practice, here’s an interesting case study.

One of my good friends recently got promoted to a position where she is in a direct supervisory role for the first time. Because my friend is, I suspect, a highly social 3w2 in the enneagram system, and most definitely a Feeling type in the Myers Briggs system, what other people think of her has a profound effect on her sense of well-being.

She asked me how she can handle the stress of her new responsibilities while still maintaining a fun working environment. In other words, I think she’s looking for a way to always look good to her superiors, while having everyone working under her always like her. Not a shocking desire, given her personality type. Also, unfortunately, probably not a possibility.

People who are feeling types (whom I’ve referred to elsewhere as “high maintenance” people) have a rather alarming habit of putting off a stressful, anxious “vibe” that other people pick up on. It doesn’t always come out as a screaming fit or a tantrum.

Sometimes it’s a silence that’s tenser and more uncomfortable to others than a tantrum. In short, we sometimes “download” our stress onto other people. I think many of us have been in a position where a supervisor did this to us, and know that’s NOT a recipe for a fun working environment.

While it’s unlikely my friend will be able to avoid the stress that comes from other people being irritated or unhappy with you, managing her own anxiety so that this “download” onto her subordinates is minimized is probably an achievable goal.

She’s already ahead of the curve in that she recognizes and acknowledges her tendency to do it. Most people who have the tendency do so completely outside of their own awareness.

Another smart thing she’s doing is enlisting trusted, “safe and sane” friends to give her a heads up if she’s starting to let her stress bubble over onto her coworkers.

Lastly, she recognizes that not all friction in a workplace is bad. Some of it will be necessary, when coworkers or subordinates aren’t doing their jobs properly. There’s a difference between consciously applying pressure to an underperforming employee and taking your stress out on someone who hasn’t messed up.

If I were a real coach, I would probably encourage my friend to read up on her personality type, and ask herself the following questions.

  • What do I fear will happen if something I’m responsible for gets screwed up? Is it a legitimate, realistic fear?
  • If the “worst case scenario” happens, will I ultimately be okay?
  • Threes often worry that they’re “all show and no substance.” Can I list some accomplishments I’ve achieved that feel concrete and substantive that helped lead to attaining this position?
  • If other people are unhappy with me, can I reassure myself that it’s only temporary, and that feelings change frequently? Can I calm down my own anxiety in the interim?

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