I don’t know if it’s the law of unintended consequences that is unwittingly invoked by some managers or if they are yet learn the challenges that result when their people focus attention on and circulate around them.
Here is a scenario we have encountered on several occasions. A manager has the drive, energy and desire to create a great team however, while not a micromanager, she is unaware that her style is very ‘black and white’. She also has very definite opinions on what should be done and in many cases how it should be done.
This manager was unaware how this caused people in her team to respond, and in turn how this impacted her own effectiveness and the effectiveness of her team to deliver required outcomes.
Here are a few outcomes of her ‘black and white’ approach:
- People reacted in line with her requirements; rather than initiate action people did not want to be the first to act, often procrastinating and avoiding situations.
- People often switched priorities to meet her needs.
- Team members were risk averse.
- People worked towards consensus in decision making and taking actions that aligned to her view (sometimes even if they didn’t agree with her).
- There was artificial harmony within and between team members which was beginning to undermine trust.
- People shifted responsibility to others rather than take accountability, particularly if they were unsure how this manager may respond.
- Motivation and sense of accomplishment decreased. The team culture was steadily becoming passive.
The answer lay in realigning this manager’s focus and where she placed emphasis. She achieved this by refocusing the team’s attention away from her to engaging team members to reaffirm their purpose, direction and outcomes as a team.
When the manager and every team member maintained sharp focus on this clear team purpose and direction instead of on her the following accrued:
- People initiated action rather than reacting.
- ‘Line of sight’ to the purpose and direction was reinforced through clear goals, milestone and measures.
- Accountabilities were agreed and people were willingly held accountable for achievement of outcomes.
- Innovation increased as it was focused on an agreed purpose/direction.
- Risk was easier to manage and mitigate.
- There is now a central point of focus and guidance to return to when challenges, differences, or new information has the potential to impact or change team outcomes.
- Critical learning opportunities that develop managers and their people are mapped out as part of the journey.
- A strong sense of accomplishment and achievement permeates the team.
It is amazing what can be achieved when a manager changes their mindset and focus. We’re confident that the majority of managers do not intend to create such situations. Take a moment to reflect on whether your impact is creating some unintentional consequences for teams you lead.
Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes.