Are You a Parent or a Manager?

If you manage staff do you do it on an adult to adult basis or do you find yourself lapsing into a parent type ego state? And if you are not in a management role, what type of manager do you have?

Transactional Analysis

When I’m working within organisations I often find it really helpful to use T.A. terms to help staff analyse what could be improved upon with their communication styles and working relationships.

One of the most common issues I come across is the parenting style of management. Generally speaking this is not a helpful position to hold and does not develop staff, either for their own good or to the benefit of the organisation.

Two Parenting Styles

There are two types of parent ego states in Transactional Analysis, the nurturing parent and the critical parent. While being on the receiving end of a nurturing type parent manager might be preferable to the critical I’d argue that neither are helpful or appropriate in a professional setting.

If you have a nurturing type manager they will be likely to speak to you in soothing calming tones. They may make you drinks often, pat you on the back, tell you not to worry and that they will go that potentially difficult meeting for you. Their kindness can stifle your potential, they do not allow you to make your own mistakes and develop.

On the other hand, a critical parent manager, will be forever finding fault with what you do, point their finger a lot, use phrases such as “You should do this..or “Pay attention here” They will rarely praise you for a job well done but seek to instruct you in ways you could have done it better.

A manager in adult ego state will treat you with respect, will use phrases such as “This might be useful to you” or “Have you seen this report?” In general their behaviour will be assertive.

Childlike Responses

The critical point about non adult styles of management is that staff are likely to respond from their learned childlike ego state. While this may occasionally be appropriate, usually it is not. Most organisations do not want a staff group frightened to make suggestions, use their initiative, or who are so disenchanted that they are subversive and ‘naughty’! And most people want to be treated as adults when working with opportunities to develop and grow.

Share Your Experiences of Managers

Do you recognise any of the above? I’d love to hear about your experiences of managers, if you noticed an effect on your behaviour, and how you responded to this.

If you’d like some support with your own management style, call me now on 01761 438749 or use the contact page to find out how I might help you or your organisation!


Posted on January 10th, 2011 by

One Response to “Are You a Parent or a Manager?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JaneCWoods, JaneCWoods, Brae Scotland, Ann Lewis and others. Ann Lewis said: Great new post from @JanceCWoods: Are You A Parent or a Manager? Just posted! […]

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