Management and “Attachment Styles”

Bob Wiesner | February 19, 2019

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Fascinating read in a December NY Times article on Four “Attachment Styles.” It seems we, as workers, often sabotage our work-life balance due to the relationships we forge with our bosses, clients, and others who need things from us.

Our perceptions cause a lot of this. We choose to see problems. Dependencies. Risks. We overstate the importance of the request. Or our own importance.

I’ve often worked with my clients, as individual contributors, to get a better understanding of how they’re perceiving relationships. They might have choices they’re not aware of. It changes how they set priorities. How they allocate energy and effort. How they network.

And, importantly, it might change their overall work-life balance.

The Understated Role of the Manager

It’s important for individuals to take a fresh look at work relationships and its impact on time, effectiveness and happiness.

I think it’s as important for managers to look at the kinds of relationships their people have with them. Are they the healthiest? And what role is the manager playing in creating that relationship – or at least the conditions under which that relationship was created.

Context is king. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Your team members perform as they do, at least in part, because of the circumstances in which they work. And the manager is a big part – maybe the biggest part – of those circumstances.

I’ve said this many times: Job One for leaders and managers is to create the conditions under which their people can succeed. If your people are suffering work-life imbalances, you’ve got to help them find new ways to work. But you also have to look at your own behavior, as their manager.

Managing for Growth Not Just Productivity

There can’t be anything more important to today’s workers than having the opportunity to grow. It could be growth in responsibility, or knowledge, or title, or compensation, or versatility, or importance, or leadership, or whatever. Are you as the manager aware of this as a prime motivation? Are you helping it become a reality? And, most importantly, will there REALLY be growth when the worker has done what you’ve set out for that person to do?

In other words, ask yourself if the way you manage is creating what the article in The Times called dysfunctional attachments. It doesn’t have to be intentional. But it could be real nonetheless. You can change the worker’s expectations and perspective. But you gotta change your own too.

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