The Resident Evil

by Sid

Managers come in , not shapes nor sizes, but types. I would talk about the various types on a separate day in a separate piece. But amongst the many variants, there are two rather obvious ones. The ones who try to do good to those who report to them at work – the employee friendly managers. They are more concerned about developing their wards’ careers, and aim to ensure that employees have better life/work balance and are generally happy. And these managers argue broadly that a happy workforce equates to a more productive workforce, which in turn equates to a better everything for the organization. So, it is kind of a win-win situation. One could suggest that the basic premise of these managers is that employees generally are interested in doing their work well and want good for their organizations,and managers and supervisors should just help facilitate their achieving what they would like to for their organizations. We assume here these managers albeit kind are not necessarily altruistic enough to want the good of their employees if it comes at the expense of the organizations.

Then we have managers at the other extreme – the full metal jacket managers. They adopt the stick approach, characterized by not being overtly concerned about the welfare of their staff. They believe in browbeating their sub-ordinates, and often their other colleagues, into submission. It could be reasonably supposed that they don’t trust their employees in general and think of them as eager and willing to look after their self-interests without a care for the organization. And if these managers fall short of finding folly with their employees, they at least believe that the best way to obtain results is through shock and awe. Not interested in the careers or well-being of their wards, their allegiance is to ensure their own success, and as a byproduct their organization’s success. There are of course the other variants – the forgetful manager, the ambitious manager, the disrespectful manager, the always away manager,to name a few.

Mind you, its not easy for managers either. If you are too soft and you are regarded as a pushover, a whimp. If you are too strict, and you are regarded as an evil dictator. To add another dimension, a manager himself is also being managed, and often how one is treated becomes the blueprint of how one would treat others when his or her turn comes up. Add to this the pressures of performing and getting results for the organization, the necessity of having to be absent from the regular work-floor for long periods on international assignments, the culturally diverse employee group that is the norm at most modern organizations, the complexity of one’s personal life and you find a manager’s cup full. Although there is no set course of action, and the specter of the situation plays a big part in a manager’s actions, there could be some ways that a manager can choose to live – not solutions, merely suggestions. And most of them I have learnt from those who have managed me, and I have done all right.

Its important to have a sense of empathy – to understand what an employee is going through, where he or she is from an emotional and psychological standing. And its not that difficult, simply because its not perfect. How we view what others are going through is heavily dependent on our own value systems and our perceptions. But a sense of empathy does act as a check, to remind ourselves that maybe this is not the right time to talk about an intense project or even a not so stellar on-the-job performance.

Next in line would be to earn your employees’ respect. An easy way is to be a content expert, prove it to them that you simply know much more than them in whatever they are doing. One could argue that it is the intimidating way of doing things, and they might actually be right. A better way would probably be to win their trust, make them believe in you, agree with your vision regarding the team and the organization.

Demonstrate to them that you care. Its not as easy as it sounds, for sometimes you will need to take a stand against the views of your own supervisors or other important people. Defiance usually garners admirers, but if ever it is worthwhile then it is for this. Besides it is also important to be proactive in terms of care. What this means is that look out for issues that might come up regarding the welfare of your staff, and don’t wait for something to happen and then react to it. In other words, be a proactive welfare seeker.

And finally, be prepared to lose sometimes to those whom you manage, and come second. As a manager, neither you nor your ideas are infallible.

Image Source: Book Fiesta