It must be difficult for some managers. They want to be seen as a great people leaders who help their staff grow and develop. But at the same time they want to make sure that none of their staff ever look as good as them or even, heaven forbid, better than them. Because if they did then that would be competition and as we all know, there can only be one boss.
This can prove a tricky balancing act. What happens if, by some stroke of luck, the people management side actually works and a protege starts to grow and develop? All of a sudden this has to be stopped. But you can’t just say to someone “you are getting too good, please stop.” (or maybe you can?) so some other ways need to be tried.
Here are some common ways I’ve spotted:
- Don’t give credit where credit is due. Either steal it and take the applause yourself, or supress it and act as if it never happened.
- Try to undermine the person’s confidence, perhaps by using a little white lie – “I’ve had some reports that you are showing off.”
- Give them an impossible job to do, one that is bound to fail. There is always the risk that they might pull it off so best to give them one that they don’t know is doomed. You could even talk it up a bit so they are excited at the prospect. Suckers.
- Starve them of oxygen. Don’t tell them the important facts they need to know and don’t pass on the things they think you are going to pass on.
- Finally there are the real dirty tricks – reorganise them out, move them sideways, take away their team and so.
Of course these managers could always continue to encourage their protege and delegate more things to do, freeing up some of their time to do better things. But for some people that’s just too much like good teamwork for comfort.