January 21, 2008

How to Manage Your Manager?

Who decides?
How to Make it Happen in 2008
Are you suffering from management by committee? This affliction manifests itself in multiple ways, some examples include
- I have too many managers, I am not sure who I should listen to
- I don't know what is priority - for me, for the project and for the company
- The dreaded matrix organization - solid line and dotted line

The end result of all this confusion is disenchantment for the workers, lack of respect for the organization, lost opportunities and dilution of leadership. And why does it happen? There are various reasons, extending from lack of leadership at the top, lack of accountability, culture and finally risk aversion. When it's all nebulous and fuzzy it's hard to pin accountability on one person or team. Some people like it that way!

But if you are suffering the consequences of this contrived confusion - what are your choices?

Manage you manager
What you work on and what you should ignore is not your decision but your manager's. Similarly, if you are assigned 100 hours of work or have three deadlines in the same week - it is not your job to figure out how to make it happen. It is your manager's responsibility to define priorities, assign tasks and articulate escalation options for you. If your manager is unable or unaware of this key job requirement, you should meet with him/her to address roles and expectations. Your manager should be doing his or her job and if you sometimes need to remind them of what that job entails - don't be shy to do that. It ultimately impacts your job.

Establish expectations
If you end up working with multiple managers - despair not. The strategy you use to define good working relationship with one manager should be extended to all managers. Define an assignment plan, formalize expectations and get it all in writing. Provide regular status and resolve time/priority issues as soon as they arise to keep all your managers apprised of your progress and issues.

Seek other options
This is the last resort but there are other options to pursue if there is a conflict of culture. If you seek clarity and guidance in your assignments whereas your organization favors blended responsibilities and nebulous accountability - there may be a culture mismatch. If what you face is not an isolated incident but the norm where you work, then this is the way things will be. If you can accept, adapt and be happy working in this environment - go for it. If you cannot - find someplace which values ownership and accountability.

Subscribe in a reader OR Subscribe via Email

No comments: