Managers and teams are increasingly not seeing eye-to-eye and I think I might know why.
I am fortunate enough to be able to work with individuals at both leadership and team level. It’s rare to meet people that are unpleasant or intentionally incompetent – most people are doing what they do because they have worked hard for it, or because they are interested in it. Generally, people want to continually improve and get better at what they do – regardless of how they are motivated.
Companies want to make fantastic products. Their leadership teams and managers want to impress their customers with great experiences, products and customer support. They invest loads of money in to individuals and teams to do so. Those in teams want to deliver good products, developed well, in a supportive environment. These two things should go together like crumble and custard, but all too often the rift starts right here. Why?
There is a pattern – in most organisations I go to I am seeing managers forget that they have a duty of care to their teams. They think that by taking them out to the pub for drinks they will be respected and appreciated. The truth is that the teams would just like a nice environment to work in, where their opinions are respected and their problems are addressed – even if not to their preferred conclusion. And this is what I am not seeing: managers that see themselves as having a duty to listen to their teams and then spend time unlocking their potential by removing impediments for them.
So, what’s going on? Simply put, the people that have the solutions to problems – and the potential to make amazing products – are not being listened to. The teams are frustrated and they are starting to throw their toys out of the pram. Sadly, this makes the managers even more defensive.
…is there a solution? Yes, I believe there is. Firstly, managers AND teams have to share a vision for their product. They need to believe in it and it’s benefits. The managers then need to spend time with the teams making sure they are removing their impediments, helping them work together and supporting them in decision making.
The teams need to develop their approach to side-stepping avoidable problems a bit too. Grumbling about how managers are rubbish and don’t understand the team is counter-productive. Teams have to learn how to negotiate, present persuasive arguments and play options forward. Oh, and let’s not forget there is safety in numbers… This doesn’t have to be a career-limiting move.
Luckily, we have a great track record of solving this kind of problem, so if you think that your organisation has a broken link between its mangers and teams and you’d like to fix it, get in touch. We can help.