CXO

Respect your staff and they'll respect you


Everyone wants to please his boss. Most effective IT managers want to please their bosses because pleasing their bosses means meeting business objectives. And that's always a good thing. However, it's very important that managers don't strive to please their bosses at the expense of their teams.


I once reported to a guy who seemed like he was never free to talk to any of his staff members. We'd call, send e-mail, stroll past his office surreptitiously trying to get his attention, whatever we thought would work. It was like trying to get an audience with the Pope. He was always busy talking to the CEO or some important strategic partner, which is fine, but we needed some attention and guidance at our end. Sometimes we just needed some face time to make sure one of our projects was proceeding as he expected. I think the guy just had too much on his plate and couldn't admit it (which is a subject for a whole other blog), but that didn't make us feel any better. He also agreed to way too many new projects for us, not because he was a slave-driver, but because he just wasn't intimately familiar with our bandwidth capabilities and what we already had on our plates.


Here's what a whole lot of managers don't understand: Your staffers are the movers and shakers behind meeting those business goals--the basis on which you're ultimately judged. You represent your team in those meetings with upper management, not just yourself and certainly not your own career. You should be so familiar with your team that you know whether that new project the boss wants to give them is something they can take on or not. A manager that doesn't have a solid understanding of his department's value can't effectively articulate a case for them. A manager who doesn't have his team's back is not going to get much loyalty from his team.


Turning down a project from upper management is not easy, but there are ways to do it without being shot on sight. If you never question anything, the CEO will keep on assigning projects. Until someone (like you) points out that it won't be feasible without more resources or time, your boss will never know.


Believe me, your staff members know when they're not your priority. It may present itself in more overt ways, such as when you pass on to them huge projects with short deadlines. But there are subtler ways too. Like when their requests for information e-mails don't get answered promptly. Or you continually put off meeting with them because you're busy with people higher on the totem pole. Middle management is a two-way street.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

17 comments
kovachevg
kovachevg

I guess the guy got so into the "please management first" thing that he forgot there are only 24 hours in a day and that a human being only has one brain, two hands, and two legs. There comes a time when a PM has to transform into the Real McCoy - he will either delegate authority, backed with trust, to the right person(s) on his team or he will screw it up. That's the defining moment for someone trying to continue up the management ladder. And if his fears to let go are never overcome, he will never pop. Of course, many of those managers never ask themselves why their subordinates eventually quit. I found this the Acheles's heel of most managers I worked under. They never start by saying "what did I do wrong". Instead, they look for a quick way to fill the gap. The result: without a strong team, the managers is just an accountant - he keeps tabs on what he has to accomplish and he is looking for miracle to accomplish it. But guess what, the miracle is out the door because it was never given due attention.

aiglesias
aiglesias

It is obvious that you are part of a Team, wether you are the leader of it, or not. In the given case that you are the leader, then the Team's achievements are a result not only of each of its members' hard work, but also a reflect of your management skills... and that includes the way in which you listen and interact with your Team.

avelinorflora
avelinorflora

I think this guy is not a professional. a team leader he should know the capabilities and weakness of his team.he should schedule a meeting with his staff first made a stratigic plan on the project. He should not forward the plans through emails. he should directly command his team.

RW17
RW17

These days, I have found that managers spend all their time managing upwards, rather than managing their subordinates! What I mean is that managers I work with in the Consulting industry are so focused on getting promoted that they spend all of their time trying to interact with their superiors (who are effectively the decision-makers for their promotion)! This drives me crazy! Getting any direction or valuable input from the managers I have worked with on different projects (10 years... 8 different projects... 8 different managers) is virtually impossible! The Management culture has become one of managing their career and NOT managing their staff! The result is a lot of constant upperwardly directed "backside-kissing", selling out one's staff to upper management in order to assign blame rather than accept responsibility for one's team's actions, and a sheer lack of diligence in properly reflecting their team's needs / thoughts in the face of the management directives! It's an exceptionally disappointing version of management that I have witnessed! These managers are billed to projects that I am on at an exceptional rate and yet, I have to say, the last good manager I had was 15 years ago at a part-time job while I was in University. To me, it seems that within my consulting experience, managers are far more interested in their climbing up the corporate ladder as opposed to adopting a complete set of actual managerial skills.

Zen37
Zen37

I am so happy to have read your post, you wouldn't believe. I thought i was the only one who saw and believed that this new management style was just plain did not make sense. My manager at my last employer shocked me when he said that i should concentrate on managing my boss more than my tasks. I simply could not understand how that could be an actual strategy to use. Then he told me that's how he works and he's climbing the corporate ladder. We were not on the same playing field. Heck, we weren't playing the same game. I work for my employer, he work for himself. He laid me off after a year, i was so relieved.... But I'm happy to see I'm not the only one in this boat. Merry Christmas all and a peaceful new year

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

.....let me put on a pot of coffee so I can sit back and enjoy the show. Okay, carry on.

florida_kes
florida_kes

All they bring to the table is a suitcase full of hubris. The one I have in mind was hired as a programer, climbed the ladder very quickly and was put in charge of many, important aspects of the company. He sold senior management on ideas that were incredibly ignorant and it is safe to say that this one person made a significant contribution to the failure of a $500million/year company. The initial private owners of the company lost everything they had, the CEO (who had the similar qualities that this guy had) got booted out as a millionaire and the CIO in question (by then the COO) went on to bigger and better things. Of course his direct involvement in the failure of the company never made it onto his resume, but the COO part certainly did! LOL

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

who are as combative as Maxwell. They don't respect anyone who won't go toe to toe with them. Handing it out is never a problem, thinking someone doesn't have the right to give it back, indicates an extreme lack of respect though.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

I was just pointing out that your comment in the other forum fitted in with this thread, leaving others to judge the facts. It is not my fault you posted such a degrading insult.

NOW LEFT TR
NOW LEFT TR

Someone comes in, hassles the CEO and gets and application form for their trouble. Leaves having failed in getting the job. It did not point anything at you bar the method used. You post was a personal insult and an attempt to make youself 'feel' bigger than me. You claim to be a CTO - so this thread fits.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

The number after his name is the number of times people have thought he helped them either in the how to get a job or how to do a job. Given he's in the thousands I'm a mere 28, I'm not even going to begin to call him technically or professionally. His politics, I take issue with, but calling someone for beimg arrogant, opinionated with an ego bigger than is head would be a serious pot and kettle manouevre on my part. :D If he is what he claims, and I've seen no reason to doubt that, it's not hubris, arrogance perhaps. As long as you can back up the attitude, it's a feature of your personality not a fault.

Matthew Moran
Matthew Moran

Claiming to make 3 times (he actually said probably) is not an insult. An insult is saying something like, "You've got a big nose and your mother is ugly!" - a personal attack about something that is either subjective at best or slanderous at worse. To indicate that he "probably" makes more than a person is simply a statement. I am not "offended" that Donald Trump makes more than me. Well, I am offended that Brittany Spears makes more than me - but that is a personal issue. Maxwell either does or does not make 3 times as much as that person. The person can choose to take issue with that or not but we are far too sensitive and quick to call something intolerant or an insult. If what he had said was, "You booger eatin' moron - I make 3 times as much as you!" - I would agree that it was a degrading insult. FYI: Look at the balance of my post (years back, I'm not here that often) because I don't generally post contrarian post the way Maxwell does. I'm neither defening him personally or advocating that he contine to do so. While the above disclaimer should not be necessary, there may be some who will be offended by my lack of offense - I just want to head that off.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

you got me there. I'm very self confident, arrogant about it and I have a great deal of pride in my accomplishments. Excessive I took to mean unjustified.

florida_kes
florida_kes

From what you've pointed out I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but from my very brief experience of him, he literally defines "hubris" "hu?bris ?noun excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance."

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