An object lesson for all managers.
I get an insider’s view on the managers for whom my clients work. I see the results and how their manager’s management style is interpreted. Perhaps there is a lesson from seeing the impact.
Here’s a story of one of my clients (actually two combined for the sake of the example) and his manager.
Alex is an experienced technology executive who came to his new role from a rather abusive employer; an employer known for ridicule, veto and insults. Alex did some impressive work for that employer yet rarely received acknowledgment.
His natural instincts to be protective and wary came with him to his new job. He was always on the alert for insults, dismissive behaviors and even opportunities to rid himself of what he saw as evil-doers. He tended to be more politically active than his role as a product development leader would imply.
Enter Steve, his new boss. This Vice President had acclaim in his own right and was known in the industry for his significant contributions pushing the industry to new heights. When Alex came on board, Steve clarified his expectations and then gave Alex free reins to implement the vision. Every time Alex succeeded in a task, Steve said thanks and let the whole team know of his delight. Alex glowed for days and worked even harder to achieve more, faster.
When Alex came up with new ideas for leading technology teams to increase morale, Steve not only praised him, he took the idea to corporate with attribution. When Alex’s team succeeded solving heretofore unsolvable problems, Steve made sure, again, Alex’s team was recognized.
Alex worked even harder to find new processes and management techniques for even better productivity. When a crisis hit, his team was more than willing to volunteer the extra hours on a rotating basis when he asked them their idea on how to accomplish what needed to be done. Steve noticed and commented to corporate that Alex’s team ‘volunteered’ to work the weekend. They were awarded a commendation.
Alex was promoted very quickly and lost many of his previously paranoid thoughts. He saw the best in most situations and approached all challenges from the point of view of solutions rather than problems which he trained his direct reports to do as well. He built collaborative relationships between departments where none had been before. Corporate was delighted.
Then Steve left the company. Alex was to report to Steve’s boss; someone as unlike Steve as a termite is to a tree. He is patronizing, manipulative and once a huge task was accomplished, breathed a sign of relief and moved on without any acknowledgement of Alex’s extreme effort or reports to corporate. Alex’s ideas are not considered and he is told what to do rather than asked what he thinks is a good solution. The sky is always falling and Alex is told to demand more hours from his team to fix the crisis his manager actually created.
Alex is looking for a new job.