Management Styles Compared: A Tale of Two Managers

One manager motivated employees to perform at an optimum level. Employees worked with, not in spite of her to give their best. She gave clear directions; she procured needed equipment and updated training. She equipped, challenged and rewarded staff. Employees engaged in the process and believed in the mission of the organization.

A well educated and highly recommended employee failed to grasp the policies and processes of the agency. All forms of retraining bounced off her intake platform. At her exit interview the agency asked what it could have done differently to assist her to “learn”. She replied “I do not believe in the cause”. That explained her situational failure to learn. The manager’s timely pulling of her contract prevented her attitude and poor performance from going viral within the agency. The environment was thus cleared of inter managerial/staff splitting, politics, favoritism and protectionism on behalf of a poor performer. Staff turnover was low, morale was high and the agency was stable and able to focus on the mission rather than cyclical staffing crises.

At a sister agency a clinician's exceptional clinical skills lifted her profile. She was promoted to a managerial position. Some doubted that her clinical training would morph into management skills. Her hijacking a staff meeting chaired by another, beating the table and shouting “I am the manager, I am the one on charge” was a gift to her detractors.

Habitually late she blamed the same traffic everyone else navigated on time. She punctuated her management meetings by answering personal calls. Her captive audience heard her arrange hair treatments or child care.

When she did not know what to do she reverted to the familiar and publicly psychoanalyzed the middle managers. They resisted her public trespass into their private mental health status. To regain a sense of control she resorted to micromanagement. She forbade staff cross talk, insisting she be on every internal email list. She mass emailed her caustic counter opinion to emails she disliked. All correspondence went out in her name, when she remembered to forward it, stifling staff’s ability to forge essential inter-agency alliances. Her interpretation of agency policies was never articulated clearly and changed without notice. Staff was expected to intuit the new directions. Perpetually confused staff pretended to “know” what was needed in order to avoid public humiliation.

No staff input, even input that was practical and within the mission of the agency was allowed.

Muddled and neglecting time lines she routinely demanded others complete her projects immediately. If the staff succeeded she took the credit. If they failed, staff was blamed. She repeatedly demanded that a project she had misplaced be reproduced.

Only owning good news she tossed all unpopular news like budget reductions to her middle managers. She acted as though she was victimized by the bad news she forced them to relay. Without notice she assumed the chairmanship of meetings to manipulate the staff into believing her achievements were hindered by others. The “others”, presumably the middle managers were humiliated, forced to ‘take it’ in public, without right of reply.

She refused to advocate for staff. When middle managers and the union sought pay equity she was supportive in public. Privately she seethed and sabotaged the effort, delaying the result for over a year. She denied her delaying tactics even in the presence of paper trail evidence. She assured her middle managers and team leaders of her support. Behind closed doors her gossip undermined them. She implicitly declared them incompetent when she took over their meetings or tasks.

Her managerial insanity was impossible to accommodate. Fleeing teams of middle managers cycled through the organization, destabilizing it and deflating morale. Promoted beyond her management competence she refused to consider managerial retraining. Her wake was strewn with skilled but demoralized middle managers and team leaders with decimated confidence in their abilities and their professions.

So ends the written telling of the tale of two managers. Their stories are told, but your management style and outcomes can yet be rewritten.

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