We don’t always get to choose who our boss/executive is, much less their leadership style, in fact, when you interviewed for the role, they might not even be involved. So, you walk in on your first day with no clue what to expect, its potluck if both your styles of working are going to gel. Maybe that is not the most efficient way to recruit a PA or EA but is it often the case. You may find yourself working with someone who has a leadership style you haven’t dealt with before or don’t particularly want to deal with! Help is at hand because once you accept that you can’t change them, you can only change how you work with them, it becomes easier. With the controller, you may find yourself repeating the mantra “don’t take it personally”.
How to recognize a controller
The controller manager had a direct, authoritarian leadership style. They don’t tend to ask how your weekend was and how your pets are.
Controllers value efficiency and productivity, and set clear, specific goals. If you send them a spreadsheet with one formula error on it, expect them to notice within minutes.
They tend to micromanage their employees for maximum control.
They don’t tend to listen to or take advice well.
How to deal with the controller
Don’t take the micromanaging personally.
Schedule regular update meeting or status reports. Don’t wait to be asked.
Be flexible with their needs and goals.
Be brief and to the point in communicating with them, whilst being professional, don’t try to get them to talk about their personal life.
Stay a step ahead – anticipate, even more so than you usually would.
Instead of offering advice simply articulate to them the pros and cons of a potential decision or course of action.
The disadvantages of working with a controller
If you are used to working with different, more friendly, leadership styles, you may find the controller cold or unfeeling to work with.
You may feel you are being victimised as your mistakes will be pointed out.
You might feel more pressure to be perfect and have perfect attendance etc.
The advantages of working with a controller
Their attention to detail is second to none, and yours will be too as you don’t want to submit work to them that isn’t proofread, or double/triple checked; they will pull you up.
You will know where you stand, because they will be clear on what they expect from you. They aren’t the type to give vague instructions. You won’t have a problem with lack of clarity.
The controller won’t pat you on the back for doing a good job the way some bosses might, they have high expectations, so this may make you raise your own bar as it will take a lot to amaze them. Praise from a controller is unusual so the day you receive it, you will know you really are impressive.
Controllers get to their positions of authority because of their attributes not despite of, so they have much to offer in terms of learning from them so watch them closely.