From the Ask Tom mailbag –

What do you do when a person wants a job that, as their manager, you KNOW is beyond their capability?

A false sense of his own skill level is not such a bad thing. Between you and me, let’s call it self-confidence, perhaps over-confidence. Some managers may try to adjust a person’s over-confidence by calling them out, chopping them off at the knees or otherwise belittling them. Waste of time. In fact, counterproductive.

Marcus Buckingham, in his book, The One Thing You Need to Know describes a superb managerial response. He assumes that, in some cases, over-confidence may actually be helpful in the face of a true challenge. So, rather than try to adjust this young man’s confidence level, spend time asking him to articulate the difficulties of doing a high quality job in his role with the company.

Most people underestimate the real difficulties, which contributes to over-confidence and also contributes to under-performance. Don’t cut this person off at the knees. Talk about the work. It’s all about the work. Your job, as a Manager is to help the person explore those difficulties.

2 thoughts on “Over-Confidence

  1. Aaron Drake

    This is a great strategy. In almost every case, it is most effective to bring them to a place where they verbalize first what you want to say to them. That involves asking the right questions to bring them to their own conclusion. People internalize more deeply what they think is their idea.


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