Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 1 of 2

Making Tough Decisions as a Boss. Part 1 of 2 In the last post, you tried to get money for the new project only to find yourself outmaneuvered and forced to find half of it within your existing budget. That is, you must take money from your other two units to give to Mike. There are basically three options for deciding how the money will be moved. The following table gives you their pros and cons. Options Pros Cons Option 1: You decide ·       Quick ·       Efficient ·       Bigger picture will be kept in mind ·       Don’t have to deal with supervisors jockeying for position (i.e. power undercurrent) ·       May not be effective as you may not understand the details of each unit enough to reallocate the money correctly ·       May anger/alienate some/all of your staff Option 2: Supervisors decide ·       Everybody gets heard ·       New solutions might be tabled ·       Transparent ·       Lose control of the outcome ·       Will take longer to decide ·       Not all relevant factors may be considered Option 3: Supervisors discuss; you decide ·       Keep control of the process ·       Everybody gets heard ·       New solutions might be tabled ·       Transparent ·       All relevant factors…

Falling Prey to Power Plays from Other Managers

Falling Prey to Power Plays from Other Managers In a previous post, we saw how YOU (Galen), as manager of a unit in a card manufacturing company, assign a new project to Mike because Mike used phrases which were sacrosanct in your work culture. Now YOU attend a management meeting of Alicia (YOUR boss), and your peer managers (Dante and Marguerite), to discuss how to fund the new project. Alicia: Okay, next item: funding Galen’s project. YOU: We’ll need about $500,000 for the software and marketing. Dante: That’s a lot! Where’s it gonna come from? YOU: I assume from Alicia’s special projects fund. Alicia: That would pretty much clean it out for the year. YOU: Maybe we each can take a hit on our budgets. Marguerite: Alicia, I’m already to the bone. More cuts would mean I can’t meet my deadlines and there would be hell to pay down the line. Alicia: Yes, I can see that. Dante:  It can’t be from mine! Alicia, you’re usually right on the money on new trends, but as you yourself say, better safe than sorry. Alicia: In what way? Dante: We can’t jeopardize our other operations. Let’s start small in Galen’s area and…

Do Your Employees Control You?

Do Your Employees Control You? In my recent post, Power—The Hidden Engine at Work, three employees vie for a new responsibility and one—Mike—wins by snowing his boss Galen. In this post, I’ll discuss how this shift in control happened and why it’s important. Off the top, I realize that ‘control’ is a harsh word. I just couldn’t think of another word for the phenomenon. In addition, I recognize that for the most part, employees are not scheming and nefarious people; they’re just trying to have things go in their favor. A completely human thing to do. The problem arises when the manager doesn’t recognize this undercurrent and gets caught up in it. How did Mike control Galen? Every organization has them—hot button words or phrases which are sacrosanct. Might be lean and mean, quality first, company brand, what’s best for the company, budget discipline, etc. You can probably identify some in your own company. The curious thing is that whenever these hot buttons are mentioned, everyone figuratively stands up and salutes. And there is a rush to ensure that the hot button item is protected. In our scenario, almost without realizing it, Galen fell for phrases like company brand and…

Letting Your Own Needs Interfere With Your Management Responsibilities

Letting Your Own Needs Interfere With Your Management Responsibilities You, of course, never do this. You are totally objective and above all such pettiness. Un-huh. 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…

How do I Manage to Minimize Groupthink?

How do I Manage to Minimize Groupthink? In the last post, I covered whether to deal with underground, and often incorrect, employee perceptions. I think you need to as a manager and doing so will help address one of the most pernicious undercurrents: groupthink. What is groupthink? Groupthink is one of several undercurrents of which most people are unaware but which can materially affect their careers. Specifically, groupthink is the tendency of a group to seek consensus even if it doesn’t produce the best solution. It is a major bar to innovation. In future, I’ll discuss the phenomenon in more detail but right now, I think it is sufficient to say that groupthink comes from an almost overwhelming need of most people to get along with their colleagues. This need can sometimes lead to papering over issues which should not be, or even starting to believe that you are in error because  of the group’s differing expressed views. This is what happened in the post on deciding holiday schedules. I realize that in the panoply of management responsibilities, deciding holiday schedules is right down there, but I chose that situation precisely because it is minor to show that undercurrents can…