Letting Your Needs Interfere With Your Management Duties

June 8, 2020

Letting Your Needs Interfere With Your Management Duties

You, of course, never do this. You are totally objective and above the pettiness of letting your needs sway your decisions.


And when you get over yourself, you can be welcomed back into the human race.


In the workplace, companies demand everyone make decisions based on what’s good for the company and not themselves. You’re a team player if you do and a selfish, ambitious, and self-serving person if you don’t. So, it’s natural to present yourself as the company wants you to be.

But your own needs can get in the way

 Unfortunately, companies aren’t entirely wrong (even though they are entirely self-serving) in their view. Enterprises generally work better if people think of the bigger picture rather than of their own advantage. Which still doesn’t take away from the very human need to try to get what is best for us (i.e. me) versus the balance of humanity. Everybody wants things to go their way.


The issue is compounded for managers because they often have within their power to decide questions in which they have a personal stake. For example, in deciding holiday schedules, you have the final say and it turned out the way you wanted it to. How do you manage this potential/perceived conflict of interest?

How to balance your needs and your responsibilities

  1. Be clear on your preference. Before the meeting, clarify in your own mind which way you would like the discussion to go. Not to push it there but to avoid a moment in the meeting when you suddenly realize you don’t agree with where the discussion is going.
  2. As mentioned earlier, speak last in the meeting.
  3. Admit the bias. When you finally speak, you might say, “Well, as you know, I’d prefer the time off but I want to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.” They already know or have guessed what your preference is, but stating it helps to dissipate any suspicion that you might be trying to get your way surreptitiously.
  4. Make the decision according to the rule you laid out. If you say you want to treat everyone fairly, make sure the decision does.


Don’t go overboard

However, don’t take this to the extreme. I have known managers who have made less-than-optimal decisions because they would personally benefit from the right decision. If you really are the best person to go to the conference in Fiji, then go. Don’t twist yourself or the decision-making process out of shape to avoid any perception of bias.

All you need to do is to explain why you think you’re the best person to go. If your group already trusts you, they’ll probably accept that. If they don’t, they may not believe you. But the answer to this dilemma is not to avoid the right decision. It is instead to work on building trust with your group. I will undoubtedly talk about how in future posts.


All this seems like a lot of work. Wouldn’t it be easier just to make the decision yourself? Next post.

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