The Inevitable Consequences of Helicopter Management

Look up and there he is, the helicopter manager. He hovers nearby, glancing at the time clock and clutching your most recent performance review in his sweaty, coffee-stained fingers. You can almost feel the perceived threat. Do this my way, or it’s the highway. Unfortunately, you have no real clear idea of what “his way” even is.

All you know is that the helicopter manager is always nearby to leap on the most miniscule misstep, and he will drone on and on, bathing you with inane platitudes that have little to nothing to do with your actual workload or job description. He is critical without being helpful, omnipresent without adding benefit by being there and pedantic without having any real, actionable wisdom to share.

He is the bane of office morale and the enemy of employee productivity. But he is more than a cliché, more than the muse for bad Hollywood comedies. He is a menace, a cancer and he must be stopped. Know the signs … and what happens when the helicopter manager is left unchecked.

The hovering, overbearing manager is bad for your health. Literally. Employees with bosses who won’t leave them alone to do their jobs are more likely to develop heart disease. They literally squeeze the life out of you.

Helicopter managers kill productivity even when they are not actively hovering over a specific employee. This is because, on average, employees daydream about quitting far more often when they are not left alone to simply do their jobs.

When criticism is nonspecific and constantly imminent, employees will refuse to take initiative, preferring to wait until they are told to do something or asked why it hasn’t been done.

Unfortunately, this sort of attitude is contagious. Employees under a helicopter manager will find very little time to do actual work and quite a bit of time to complain about every little decision the boss makes. They will daydream and may even threaten to take his job, but, given the chance, only one out of five would actually take the job.

People want to be productive, and they want to be useful and appreciated. Helicopter bosses keep all of that from happening. They suffocate their workers and leave them thinking about nothing other than how to get through the day until they can find a way out.

Roman Temkin is a real estate developer from NYC.


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