Manage turbulent times together | Sunday Observer

Manage turbulent times together

On the outside, managers have to be resolute and strong while often their hearts are broken knowing that good people lose their jobs, incomes are reduced, and promises made are put on the back burner. Pic: Courtesy cio.com
On the outside, managers have to be resolute and strong while often their hearts are broken knowing that good people lose their jobs, incomes are reduced, and promises made are put on the back burner. Pic: Courtesy cio.com

The managers’ role has become more critical in the given environment, especially in the Sri Lankan context with the most recent developments.

For success in a tough operating environment, you need good management and for good management, you need good managers. If your aim is high performance, you need to be able to recognise the signs of bad management and bad managers and deal with them quickly enough.

If not, an organisation will never be able to become excellent. You may be in the best industry and best organisation but the bad managers will claim that the other managers have made such a big mess of the department or other departments have messed things up, hence the business cannot perform.

They wait until others correct their lapses or do their part without acting upon their own issues. Bad managers also claim the issues relating to external factors; mainly competition are the reasons for lack of performance and ignore the fact that they are paid high salaries to find internal solutions to external issues.

These managers seek solutions to the issues from the hierarchy. Bad managers are always busy and have a lot of work; in fact, they’re so busy that there isn’t enough time to work on regular tasks.

What’s the real value of those activities? What happens to the business if those activities were not done? They find no time to work on strategic issues to grow the business – overcome the challenges. They expect departmental goals to be fluid, with lots of slack, which means the targets will be easy to achieve.

Bad managers will never get optimal results from their teams; but that doesn’t matter to them, bad managers would rather have low performance than run the risk of punishment for falling short of ambitious targets.

Don’t blame others

Bad managers love to use performance indicators because these make it possible to practise hands-off management. This in turn makes it easy for bad managers to avoid the day-to-day department activities altogether. And of course, if anything goes wrong, they can dodge accountability: they weren’t there, after all.

Bad managers have a host of excuses at their disposal when they don’t achieve departmental targets. Bad managers blame the outside world: the economy is bad and market is going down, it has rained too much and led to flooding, it hasn’t rained enough, whatever - but that is the reason everything was going against the job and therefore, it was just impossible to achieve the targets.

They blame the weak colleagues; it was his or her fault the department floundered. When writing up the latest game plan, bad managers know that expansive, wordy, and complex plans always impress top management because it gives the impression that they are on top of their game and have thought of everything.

They also know that you can bury all kinds of assumptions and preconditions in these verbose plans, which function as safeguards when top management starts complaining that goals have not been achieved.

Bad managers are all capable of holding an open forum for employees to voice concerns, questions and suggestions. This sounds like the mark of a good manager, right? When the organisation is on the verge of holding a bad manager accountable for his or her actions, the bad manager moves on to another organisation.

In fact, the bad manager had plotted his or her exit strategy for a long time, and always has a fallback organisation where he could flee. Managing in turbulent times can tear managers apart. Hard times can become even lonelier for managers, since they must project a positive but realistic spirit.

On the outside, managers have to be resolute and strong while often their hearts are broken knowing that good people lose their jobs, incomes are reduced, and promises made are put on the back burner. Managers also come under attack as, with negativity all around, everyone wants more time with them. This starts at the top, as boards often become more critical, ask more questions, want more checkpoints, and may not seem to understand why things aren’t turning faster.

Relationships suffer as more demands on direct reports result in a feeling of pulling away. Peers who once were pals seem to compete, with less time for kidding around and just getting together.

As intensity builds, managers can feel under siege. Yet managers must avoid bunker mentality and must take care of themselves or they risk giving way to feeling trapped, unable to please, and just plain not being able to win. 

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