Who’s in your team

Years ago I appointed a manager who was a complete disaster, but I didn’t get a clue of this during the appointment process. The problem only appeared when he started work and it turned out that he did not have a clue how to communicate or even get on with the people who worked for him. In contrast to this he was very good at dealing with his peers and me as his manager, which made it very difficult for me to understand just what his team were complaining about.

I’ve seen this again a few times since then and now I can characterise the symptoms. There are some people who think that the team they are part of only includes those who are their equal in the hierarchy and their manager. They simply don’t see themselves as part of a team with the people who work for them.

This affects all of their relationships with their team. Specifically:

  • They don’t share their ideas, concerns, hopes etc
  • They don’t really listen to their staff. In particular they don’t really appreciate the ideas that their staff have
  • They don’t acknowledge that their staff have a role to play in the difficult work the manager is responsible for, such as contributing to strategy or politics.
  • They only occasionally talk to their staff in terms of the wider picture (if at all). Normally they deal with individuals about individual details.

This is so demoralising for the team involved, since, more than anything, this is disrespectful. It also fragments the team, stops them seeing the bigger picture and thereby reduces their effectiveness. It even ends up significantly undermining the manager concerned since they are refusing all the support they could otherwise get from a loyal team.

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