Still Addicted to Details? Here Are More Reasons to Quit Cold Turkey

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My mother, God rest her soul, once cautioned me to understand that not everyone takes work as seriously as I do.

I was telling her about some workplace injustice, and then I got good and mad, as I tend to do. And this is truly my cross to bear — the cross of caring too much. It sucks, honestly.

But then again, I can’t imagine not caring.

Work is important. Work provides the means to financial independence. Work provides purpose. Work provides dignity. And these are very serious things, indeed.

Dignity in particular, is a serious subject. There’s nothing comical about having one’s dignity snatched, as tends to happen far too often at work.

Let it go, already

Last week on TLNT, Patty Azzarello wrote about leaders who have a hard time letting go of their need for detail. The article struck a loud and sharp chord with me, because I know the type all too well. And, as is often the case with the haphazardly ineffective leader, he (or she) does far more harm than he could ever imagine.

A psychological study (performed in 1976 for crying out loud, and still we can’t get this right) found that autonomy levels affect worker health, morale, and their ability to handle their workload. I’d venture to say there’s been at least one article with the same message written every year since (and perhaps many others written before).

And when you get right down to it, a leader who won’t let go is refusing her employee the opportunity to be autonomous. To be right. To own something. To be able to say, “Hey, this is how I made this organization better.” To have some dignity about her work.

It’s a stinkin’ shame. And what the hell does the leader gain by acting this way? Other than an inappropriate (and false) sense of control and power, not much.

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Remember The Golden Rule

And save the blather about teamwork and how there’s no “I” in team and all that crap. In high-performing teams, each member is assigned distinct duties that he executes for the common good. There’s no such thing as a high-performing team without boundaries.

People go to work, and they want to feel good about their contribution, but a control-ling leader who insists her nose (and hands) should be everywhere robs a worker of that satisfaction. That’s ineffective and inhumane.

So yeah, I take this stuff seriously.

Fortunately, there’s a very simple solution to this problem: Do unto others, please.

If you wouldn’t want to be made to feel as useful as a lump of coal, then dammit, don’t do that to somebody else. Let go. Trust a little more. Practice minding your own business and giving employees enough rope to corral theirs.

There’s a reason you hired someone else to do that job. Let them do it.

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR, is an HR consultant and freelance writer who lives in Philadelphia. She also writes at her blog, HR BlogVOCATE. For the past 15 years, Crystal has focused on building HR departments in small- to mid-sized companies under the philosophy that "HR is not for wimps." She is also the CEO and Founder of Work It Out! and partners with HRCVision, a full-service HR consultant practice specializing in leadership and diversity training. Contact her at


3 Comments on “Still Addicted to Details? Here Are More Reasons to Quit Cold Turkey

  1. Well said! The difficulty, I find, arises when there is a lack of self-awareness. We can all agree that the controlling person should let go for the benefit of all involved, but we also make the assumption that the controlling person is fully aware of what s/he is doing, then does it anyway. In similar situations, it’s been my experience that the controller hasn’t the least clue that they’re doing something so pervasively detrimental – often times, s/he is under the impression that s/he is being a great help to the team by taking an active hand, and that those efforts are simply unappreciated. These poor souls have either never engaged in developing self-awareness, or are truly incapable of gaining it. The situation may require some kind of intervention, where the team gets together and presents their concerns to the controller in a firm-yet-positive way. If the message still doesn’t get through, it might be time to consider greener pastures.
    Cheers! Lisa Chatroop, Good.Co

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