If you want to be trusted and trustworthy, get the plum assignments, and avoid micromanagement, then one of the most important things you need to do is to make sure people feel confident in your competence. Do you have the capability to be successful, so that they don’t have to worry about you and hover over you at all times? Here’s how to make people feel more confident in your competence.

Show That You’re Paying Attention

The first way is to make sure that you’re talking about how you invest in your competence. If you watched an interesting video last week – let’s pretend it was one of the replays from the World Actuarial Conference – then tell people about it. Or show your coworkers that you’re reading cool articles by sharing them with them. Maybe you saw this-or-that in The Economist, and it really pertains to your company’s supply chain issues. Pull out what parts of it you think are particularly valuable. This shows that you’re paying attention.

Connect the Dots Between Different Areas

The second thing you can do is to connect the dots when your colleague is talking about something in their area of expertise. Show how the dots connect between their area and your own. Say, “oh, that’s interesting! If you’re wrestling with supply chain issues, I need to be thinking about our store layouts for the next quarter. That way we can lay it out so that it makes gaps in our stock less obvious.” They’ll probably think that’s great and thank you for it. When you’re seen as someone who connects dots, that’s a strong indicator of competence!

Ask Great Questions

Another way to stop being micromanaged is to just ask great questions! People who ask great questions are perceived as competent. I find that asking connection questions or anticipation questions are the best kinds of questions.

When your colleague says something, ask “Okay, so how would this affect that?” You don’t really do much other than pay attention and ask about connecting two dots. Or you can ask, “What do we see as the next likely step?” These connection and anticipation questions get you the most brownie points as a smart, competent kind of person.

Ask for Help

Finally, here’s some counterintuitive advice. People will perceive you as more competent and deserving of confidence when you ask for their help. But not in a “Oh, I have no idea what I’m doing” kind of way, but simply in an “I’m going to approach this doing X, Y, and Z. But I’m really interested to know what I might be missing? What else would you add to this?”

This comes from the fact that we humans are pretty fond of our own confidence and competence. We tend to overstate how awesome we are. So when someone else is smart enough to tap into this fount of wisdom that we possess, well, they must be pretty clever! It’s counterintuitive, but asking for insight and assistance makes people have more confidence in our competence.

Something that’s even more fundamental than competence is the idea of connection. Connection is really about whether or not you’re going to get the benefit of the doubt when your competence is called into question. I also have lots of tips and tricks for how to strengthen your connection with your colleagues. Check it out here.

More on this

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When Should I Manage Up

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