If You Manage Others You Are “Them”

I’ve written before about Manager Tools. Specifically I’ve written before about how you are the company to the people who report to you, and all that entails.

Over the last couple of weeks on the Manager Tools podcast they’ve released parts 1 and 2 of Welcome To They – Professional Subordination

In their own words:

You’re in your boss’s office, and he tells you that his budget has been cut and your team will have to give up 3 of its 10 members. Or, she says that there’s a new project that supersedes yours, and all of your team’s work won’t be needed or used, and they’ll transition to other work. Or, he says, sorry, but the pitch you and one of your teams made was denied.

Sure, you’re disappointed. Frustrated. But what really matters is what you’re going to tell your team. Because you have to support the decision without complaint, publicly and privately.

Welcome to They.

These two casts really brought home the idea of being the organization to the people who work for you, because the examples they gave were things that I’ve seen over and over again in the 25 or so years that I’ve worked in various industries and jobs. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve had bosses express frustration, bewilderment or simply ignorance about decisions being made by the management team that they are part of! Each time it has happened, I’ve never been able to put my finger on exactly why, but I’ve always left with a feeling that maybe I should do something else. After listening to the Manager Tools guys talk about it, I can suddenly put my finger on it.

If you are my boss and your message to me is that you’re unhappy with a decision, or that you don’t know what is going on or why, my first instinct is to not want to work for this organization any longer. After all, if the management of the company can’t even get on the same page, why should I invest my future here when I can go somewhere else? Your job is not to commiserate with me, it’s to convince me that this is the correct decision for the organization and what the plan is to move forward. Your reports can’t move forward if you don’t.

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