Eric P. Bloom: Working with other managers
Rule No. 1 is to be a team player. It will make it easier for you, easier for your boss and easier for your group.
Assuming that your peers are also managers, your boss is then a manager of managers. As a result, his/her job is very different from yours. Whereas your job is to be sure that specific hands-on work is being appropriately performed, your boss' job is to assemble a cohesive management team that works together as a unit for the greater good of the organization.
Unless you are very, very good or you are best friends with your boss, not being a team player will eventually cause you to be pushed out of the organization. Your boss wants a team that works together. Also, if your peers can’t or won’t work with you, they can make your life miserable. And never forget about reorganizations. If your boss leaves or is promoted, there is a large probability that you may find yourself working for one of your current peers. Now guess what - if you treated this person poorly when he/she was your peer, chances are he/she will be very unpleasant to you as your manager. Something to keep in mind is that helping your peers also helps your boss. As your manager wants you and your department to be successful, he/she also wants his/her other managers and their departments to be successful.
All that said, working with your peers is not always a bed of roses. Depending on your company's culture and/or your specific job function, you may find yourself continually competing with your peers for resources, budget dollars, control of specific business areas, bonus dollars, stock options and many other things. As a result:
- Learn the rules of the game
- Don't take advantage of your peers (too much)
- Don't be a push-over and let your peers take advantage of you
You will find that many of the rules you learned in elementary school still apply:
- If you let them take your lunch money today without a fight, they will probably try to take it again tomorrow
- If you are willing to take the blame for their issues today, you will probably be blamed for their problems tomorrow
- If you show leadership and initiative today, over time people may be willing to follow your lead
- If you don’t play well in the sandbox, you won’t be invited to play
Working with other managers is a different dynamic than working with other individual contributors. This primary difference is because you are managing the work, not doing the work. Thus, your role is more about coordination, communication and cooperation. As a manager, generally speaking, competence is assumed. Your success or failure in a particular role very often has very little to do with your personal skills and/or abilities. Your success has more to do with how your personality and working style fits into the organization’s culture and your personal relationship with your boss and fellow managers.
The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:
- Be a team player, it can make life easier for you, your boss, your team and your peers
- Your success as a manager at a particular company will be based more on how your personality and work-style gels with an organization rather than on your skills and/or abilities
- Office politics at the manager level are very different than at the individual contributor level
For additional information on today’s topic, I suggest the book “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics: How to Achieve Your Goals and Increase Your Influence at Work,” by Marie G. McIntyre.
For comments on this topic or suggested future topics, please e-mail me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart and continue to grow.
Eric P. Bloom is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC, a training company specializing in new manager training and information technology management training. Manager Mechanics, LLC can be found on the Web at www.ManagerMechanics.com.