Know when it's Time to Intervene but be Cautious not to Interfere

Posted by martin.parnell |

Being a manager requires a great deal of skill when it comes to the way you interact with your colleagues and employees. You have been given your role because you are well versed in the workings of your company and have, hopefully, demonstrated excellent skills relating to that role. There is, however, one skill that, despite their competencies in many areas, some managers find it difficult to master. 

I refer to the ability to know when it is appropriate to demonstrate a valuable hands on approach and when that can be come intrusive. I am talking abut the difference between intervening and interfering. 

Obviously, it is important to encourage employees and be an enabler, so that you get the best from your workforce. If you are a smaller company, there may be times when you will be required to coach them in certain skills, train them in new techniques and technologies and bring an awareness to any new company policy.  

You should be available to engage in planning sessions and be seen to collaborate. This will gain the respect of employees and make it easier for you to identify areas for their development. It is important to take an interest in their work, be a mentor, offer guidance, and provide feedback. If you have a new employee, it makes sense to observe them and ensure that they are fulfilling their role. It is also important to make sure they fully comprehend all the aspects of that role, in order for them to show their range of capabilities. 

Being an approachable manager will encourage others to seek your opinion and refer to your knowledge and experience. Always keep lines of communication open, so that employees are not daunted by the thought of having to ask for support or clarification. There will be times when you may need to intervene. If you see that an employee hasn’t fully understood a task, or if they need some support in a certain area. Perhaps they are lacking in experience in a certain aspect of their job. It may be that they have become overloaded with work and you need to help them prioritize. 

Of course, as a manager, you need to know what is going on in your company and, if you have a large enough workforce, this can be achieved by appointing reliable, skilled team leaders, in each department. They can be very effective in ensuring that employees are up-to-date with day-to-day requirements and any changes needing to be made. It is their role to demonstrate new skills and be able to prioritize when they have issues to deal with and know when it is appropriate to take them to the manager. 

Team leaders can be seen as people to go to when problems arise and may be able to decide what need to be overseen by the manager or dealt with there and then.

They can give support to both colleagues and management and reinforce company policy and standards. For some managers, this approach can sometimes be difficult to adopt, the reason being that they find it hard not to have complete control.

They want to monitor everything their employees do and have an input in to everything. 

This can prove very disheartening if you are a capable employee. You have been given your job because you were viewed as being knowledgeable and have the appropriate skills to achieve what is required of it. You understand the job description and produce good work and yet you have someone constantly checking and overseeing everything you do. 

This not only undermines the employee’s confidence but it would make it appear that the manager does not trust them to complete a task to a satisfactory level. Also, if you are constantly spending time checking on your workforce, it gives you less time to concentrate on your own duties. 

As a manager you might wish to maintain a certain level of detachment which may be necessary at times. It also allows you to focus more on the bigger issues relating to your company. Of course, there will be times when a manager will have to intervene. If a team leader is not being supported by employees, if there are issues they are unable to deal with or there is s disciplinary matter. 

For a manager, it’s all a matter of  being engaged enough that your workforce sees that you are aware of what’s going on, are taking an active part in mentoring and  supporting them, offering encouragement and the benefits of your experience, without interfering in their day-today- work and knowing when it is necessary to intervene. 

This will result in a workforce that appreciates your interest and confidence in what they are doing whilst not feeling they are being left to struggle when they are in need of support and guidance. 

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential”. Martin has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. Find out more about Martin at  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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