There is an old expression that says if you are not part of the solution, then you are probably part of the problem. Before considering this expression as a manager, let's first consider it from the perspective of an employee. After all, if you are a manager by profession, you are most likely also an employee with a boss of your own.
That said, as the employee, what happens when your manager is not:
• A source of information and support?
• A leader providing work direction and professional inspiration?
• Helping you get your work done?
• Providing you insights that will help you grow professionally?
Even worse, what happens if your manager is:
• A bottleneck in the processes you need to get your work done?
• Doing things intentionally or unintentionally to undermine your chance for success?
• Indecisive, regarding department direction, allocation of resources and task assignments?
• Generally making your job harder to do?
• Hindering your professional growth through non-interest and a lack of attention?
• Causing unneeded stress on you and other staff members by saying and doing things that seem contrary to the department’s primary mission and success?
If your manager is this type of leader, then you will most likely go around him/her to get your work done and unless you are highly internally motivated, you will most likely not be performing at your maximum capacity. Additionally, you will mostly, in time, be looking for a new job in search of better management, a higher level of inspiration, and the chance for greater potential professional engagement, challenge, growth and advancement.
Now let's turn the tables. If you are this kind of manager, then your staff will be uninspired, performing below their potential and leaving your team for greener pastures. In essence, you have become irrelevant in their daily tasks, ongoing success, and their careers in general. Additionally, over time as these uninspired staff members filter into and out of your department, you will begin to develop a professional reputation as:
• “The manger to keep away from” by those organizationally below you
• “The manager to steal people from” by your peers
• “An ineffective manager and not promotable” by those organizationally above you
Having now explained what many would consider to be a nightmarish boss, here are a number of things you can do so that your staff will not view you in this terrible light.
1. Treat the people in your team how you would like to be treated. This simple concept will help you avoid the most obvious manager/employee blunders.
2. Don't talk "to" those you manage, talk "with" them. That is to say, don't just tell your staff what to do, seek their opinions on what needs to be done and the best way to do it.
3. Don't become a decision-making bottleneck by trying to make every decision yourself. Within appropriate bounds, give those who work for you the authority to make decisions themselves. Giving them this decision-making authority will save you from having to dig into the minutia of every minor issue and simultaneously enhance your employees' decision-making abilities.
4. Pay attention to team member needs. As a manager, don’t just listen to what your team is saying, pay attention to:
a. What they are not saying
b. How they are saying it
c. How they are acting
d. How they are perceiving you, as their manager
Being cognizant about the feelings, actions and attitudes of those on your team; then act in a way that steers those feelings toward the common good, which will help make you relevant in your team members' eyes and an asset to the company by those organizationally above you.
5. Help your team be successful in their jobs. As the expression goes, all ships rise at high tide. It’s good for your department when those in your team are successfully completing their daily tasks. In turn, it’s good for you when your department is running efficiently. In essence, helping those on your team be successful helps you personally.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart, and continue to grow.
Eric P. Bloom, of Hopkinton, is executive director of IT Management and Leadership Institute in Hopkinton. He can be reached at www.itmlinstitute.org.