A team of individuals or extensions of yourself?

Quite often someone gets appointed to be a manager for the first time because they are such a diligent worker.  They have their own routine and way of getting things done and all of a sudden they have the resources of other people to help them.  The natural temptation for these new managers is to use these people as though they were extensions of themselves.

That means expecting the team to do the things they want done and work the way they work.  If the team is sufficiently compliant then this is generally a successful strategy.  Quite often the team are not that compliant but after a great deal of brow beating they appear to be.  Occasionally some people make a stand to retain their individuality and it all turns nasty.

If that isn’t bad enough then it gets much worse as the manager rises up the chain of command and the person they are responsible for in turn become more senior.  The more senior the team, the more they expect to think for themselves and the more they can resist the push to homogenisation.  The result of this is a painful process to go through as they learn how to manage their team in a different way.

Unfortunately that is the path I followed and it took me some time to learn this the hard way.  My advice would be for new managers, or experienced managers who are now experiencing the pain to learn a different way now.

This better way is to recognise the team as a collection of individuals, each of whom works in a different way and each of whom needs to be treated as an individual.  Getting the best from people is no longer a matter of dominance, but one of discussion, negotiation, understanding and all the other best practices I talk about here.

The strength of a team that works as a team of individuals is far more than the team that works under a single authoritarian control.  It is hard work at first to curb the urge to be a control freak, but the rewards easily outweigh it.

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