Manager’s Mistakes Cascade
You know about cascading defects in a program, right? That’s where one defect causes another. You fix one defect and you realize it unmasks more.
When a manager makes a mistake, it’s a similar problem. A manager’s mistake, such as Romeo’s mistake, can cause distrust in the team. With distrust, people are less likely to want to work, or to work together. If there is enough distrust, people look for another job. I bet you’ve seen entire teams of people leave because of one manager. Or, worse, I bet you’ve seen the great people leave, and only the not-so-competent people stay.
Managers Can Rebuild Trust
If a manager addresses mistakes immediately, without letting those mistakes fester, the manager catches those mistakes and starts to rebuild the trust between themselves and the employees.
If you don’t make too many mistakes, people trust you. Your reputation is on your side as a manager. But, if you make management mistakes often, people don’t give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s difficult to recover once you start to have a reputation as a person who yells or manipulates people. A weak manager is one who is untrustworthy for a variety of reasons. People trust strong managers. They don’t trust weak managers.
You Can Make the Wrong Decision and be a Strong Manager
Management is full of tricky decision making. You can’t always tell when you make a decision whether the decision is right or wrong, but you still have to make the decision.
Sometimes, managers think if they don’t make a decision, they will be seen as a strong manager because they waited for “all” the data. But managers almost never have all the data. Managers have to weigh the risks of waiting for the data against the risks of making the decision now. And, they have to stay emotionally balanced while doing it. If you wait too long, people will see you as a weak manager. Make the decision too early, and you’ve cut off options you might have used.
Like I said, management is full of tricky decision making.
Ask for Help
What can you do as a manager to build trust, make better decisions, be a strong manager, and not feel as if you have to do it alone? Ask for help.
Sharing your management pressure can help alleviate it. Romeo could have explained his problem like this: “I’m feeling under pressure today. Dave has asked me to make sure we release this product on time, so we can start his project. I know I’m not the product owner. I know I’m not the project portfolio manager. But I’m feeling the pressure. Can you help me here, team?”
Team members might have responded in any number of ways. They might have told him to see the product owner or the project portfolio management team. The ScrumMaster or agile project manager might have taken him aside and explained where they were headed. Or, if it was defined at the beginning of the project, one of the team members might have explained. But, Romeo never gave the team a chance to help him solve his problem.
Remember, you are human, which means you need to admit your mistakes—right away. Your job as a manager is to provide an environment in which the team can do its best work. In return, the team can help you do your best work.
Read all of Johanna's Management Myths here:
- The Myth of 100% Utilization
- Only the 'Expert' Can Perform This Work
- We Must Treat Everyone the Same Way
- I Don't Need One-on-Ones
- We Must Have an Objective Ranking System
- I Can Save Everyone
- I Am Too Valuable to Take a Vacation
- I Can Still Do Significant Technical Work
- We Have No Time for Training
- I Can Measure the Work by the Time People Spend at Work
- The Team Needs a Cheerleader!
- I Must Promote the Best Technical Person to Be a Manager
- I Must Never Admit My Mistakes