Wednesday, February 5, 2014

10 Commandments for Getting Along with Your Fellow Managers:

I recently asked readers to submit their burning leadership development questions. Those that get picked for a post will receive a free copy of my eBook.

This question from Cathy:

“I have an employee who used to belong to another team before he was moved to my supervision (his job duties fit better with my team). The director of the other team still goes to this employee with projects he wants done, without formally requesting this employee's services. The employee always complies because he wants to help out. Since we all work in a small division what's the best way to handle this without creating bad will between the units?”
Maybe it’s an old fashioned management concept, but there used to be something called “professional courtesy” when it comes to situations like this.
Patrick Lencioni, consultant and author of the book “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, writes and speaks about importance of manager peer relationships. He says every manager has two teams; the one they lead, and the one they are a part of (their manager’s). Lencioni claims your #1 team as a manager should be your manager’s team, not your own. Our employees want us to work well with other departments, to remove silos and barriers that stand in the way of their success. When this doesn’t happen, they end up paying the price.

There are just some unwritten rules when it comes to how you work as an effective management team. Here are 10 commandments for getting along with your fellow managers:
1. Thou shall not poach another manager’s best employee unless the employee comes to you first.

2. Thou shall not go directly to another manager’s employee to ask them to work on a project without clearing with the employee’s manager first.
3. Thou shall not take credit for another manager’s work.

4. Thou shall not rat out another manager to your boss without first attempting to resolve the issue with the manager yourself.
5. Thou shall not speak critically of another manager in front of that manager’s employees. Speak favorably of your fellow managers in front of your boss and others. Go out of your way to give them credit and point out their strengths and accomplishments.

6. Thou shall not nod your head in agreement with another manager’s employees when they are complaining to you about their manager.
7. Thou shall be an advocate for your fellow manager’s team, work, and important projects.
8. Thou shall not hoard information from your fellow managers.

9. Thou shall not work in a silo, i.e., act as if your work and team is the only thing that matters.
10. Thou shall not be inattentive or act bored when another manager is speaking at a meeting. Listen as if it’s your boss speaking.

Given that your fellow manager violated the second commandment, I’d say it’s time to have a crucial conversation with that manager. Explain to the manager why it’s important to go to you first if he/she needs help with a project from their former employee. Explain the impact that it has on you (work planning, impact on other priorities, etc…) when he/she doesn’t check with you first. I’m sure in many cases, you’d be happy to help out your fellow manager. However, when he/she doesn’t go to you first, it can help have negative impact on other work that needs to be done.
Finally, it’s OK to let the manager know how it makes you feel, i.e., “I know it’s not your intention, but when you do this, I feel like you are undermining my authority. It feels disrespectful”.

If you approach the conversation in a respectful way and look for a win-win solution, I’ll bet you’ll be able to resolve this with your fellow manager in a way that gets both of your needs met and not create bad will.

For more on the importance peer manager relationships, see Would Your Peers Vote for You?


Joseph Lalonde said...

I have to admit I completely misread the first commandment. My mind wondered why you would have to tell us to not PUNCH another manager.

Dan McCarthy said...

Lol! I think we should add that one.

Unknown said...

Hi Dan,

I have one. Forgive your fellow manager. There will always be somebody that does something to irritate you. Let it go and don't hold a grudge.

Sam Gonzalez

Dan McCarthy said...

Sam -
I love that suggestion! Thanks.