Devil and the Deep Sea – Pick and Choose!

We all have been a new manager for the first time somewhere in our lives. How did we manage it ? A new position, the thrill of taking a new office, higher position, leading our peers and other endless excitements. Was it all this, a fairy tale ? What was the reality ? How exactly did that duration of life go ? Here’s a request from our member to the community,

“I have been working in a private sector with a newly established organization since one year. My boss directed me to lead people according to their work in absence of him. All the conversation was held on phone. I was giving instructions to all as per my boss’s direction. Slowly the employees started playing games with me. Without saying anything, I came to know that I was very rude in my behavior. I was treating or giving orders to them as if I am the boss. But my nature is kind and generous to all, my boss and even other employees knows very well.

They have started their games adding my name with a female worker. This happened because I was sharing lunch/tea with her. I accepted my fault, and later I came to know that female worker was engaged with other employees and was sharing nasty views regarding me. I was surprised.

Slowly all other employees started having their lunch together except me. Because their perception was that I was complaining about them in a wrong way. But in reality I was never ever involved in such nasty things and sharing them with my boss.

Now the scene is that they are looking at me as if I am the big Culprit. My performance is satisfactory and much better than other employees. Is that the reason they are behaving like this? What steps should I take to save myself? I know that they are not going to get involved with me anymore. Even I am not interested with such people

Looking forwards for your reply”

The transition from a promotee to a strong leader to the group involves certain stages. The competence that takes one to an office may not keep them there. We take a closer look to the case.

  • A start-up with a team working for a year
  • One talent among the team is found to be promising by the boss
  • He allocates responsibility, without announcing and establishing the leadership of this talent to the team.
  • The team is unclear about the new leadership and questions the capabilities of the talent in question
  • The team responds further with non-submission to the leadership and resorts to blame game

A similar was a case discussed in The Young and the Clueless by Kerry A. Bunker, Kathy E. Kram,and Sharon Ting, on promoting the stars and its consequences. Its a phenomena which can catch up the first time managers, specially when they are being groomed for higher responsibilities. They are highly talented. However, what gets them in office, will not keep them there. Here are few areas that we suggest to work upon :

  • Establish the authority: The fact that the talent has been asked to manage, requires to be announced to the team. Since this has not been done, our member needs to set a path for the information sharing by the authority that he has been allocated this responsibility to manage the team. Our member needs to appeal to the authority to share the distribution of the responsibilities with the team. A formal information sharing by the authorities should set the expectations right.
  • Merit over authority: The weakness of the member is known to the team members which is why its important that the member prioritizes merit in the team over establishing the authority. The job delivery would be a natural result of such working on strengths rather than rule of the rode.
  • Sharing credits and acknowledging efforts: When working in a team acknowledge the work done by everyone. Its important for every contributor to be thanked or mentioned for the initiative taken.
  • Work on the strength and develop the weaknesses of the team members: This is the sure shot way to enhance the cohesiveness. Our member was a team member, so is clearly aware of the other member’s aims and aspirations. He had a far better view of their strength and weakness compared to what is mentioned in the goal sheet. Here, the newly acquired visibility can play its part by connecting aspiration with opportunities.

The seamless transfer of responsibility by connecting the roles delivered will establish the authority. However, sensitive areas such as dealing with other’s perception will require time and continued effort to build a consensus in the long run. Tell us what would you suggest to our member in this case ?

*The Young and the Clueless by Kerry A. Bunker, Kathy E. Kram,and Sharon Ting, published HBR, Dec 2002,

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