Discover more from Marcin Konkel's newsletter
2 aspects of working with managers that will reduce your anxiety as a team member 🧘🏼♂️
If you had enough of talking with managers, empty promises or bad decisions influencing your team and the endless game of cat and mouse, this is for you. Below I share two points that can help you get unstuck.
Stop idealizing 🤩
People look up to leaders as knowledgeable and able to solve all their problems (especially the C-suite or directors). They come with pains and, often, expect ready solutions.
Treat the C-suite or managers as specialists in their fields - not wizards. They make mistakes as you do and can be wrong. It’s a job like any other.
A CEO is not an expert in UX, so when they come to you asking to change a button or how a user profile should look. You can respond with the following:
“I hear you. Tell us why you think this is a better solution. We will test this hypothesis and get back to you with data so we can make an informed decision.”
Being high in the hierarchy does not mean they know everything that people below them know. They hire you as an expert, and although they don’t always show it, they need your advice to make good decisions. The way you share it matters. See point 2.
Expectations go both ways. Share yours and talk through them when things are not happening.
Take opportunities to talk with people higher up the hierarchy to understand how they think and be less stressed when they come to your Sprint Review.
Building a mindset of approaching the conversations as a consultant or a partner instead of an employee can reduce tension. In practice, that’s what it is. They hire you to apply your craft and share advice.
Empathise with them and speak their language. Don’t fight them 🙅🏼♂️
A manager who often micro-manages, interrupts their team meetings with their ‘urgent’ calls, suddenly injects new work and even distributes the work says: “I don’t trust you can make this on your own, in the time I think I need this”.
Seek to understand what is behind this statement and what is not being said.
Don’t fight them. It won’t bring anything good as they are higher in the hierarchy and have more power over you.
Say or ask:
“What do you need to see or hear to feel confident in our work?”
“We have a different view on that which we want to discuss with you.”
“This way of working is not sustainable for us. What we would need from you is XYZ.”
“What competencies do you see our team lacks to do the work you are currently coordinating regarding XYZ?”
State to them which things they do are not helpful and what they should change to be more supportive to complete their goals.
Praise them when you appreciate something. Don’t punish behaviour you want to see more of by saying, “finally, they did something right” or “this is the least they could do”.
Show them the data on how their behaviour reduces your efficiency and morale - how completed work has dropped within a time frame.
Propose a time-bound experiment that would improve whatever they or you see is not working. Keep it short and ask: “How will we notice this has improved?”, “What change in behaviour do we need from one another to make this happen?”.
The above is not easy. No important things in life are. Get the support of a buddy or your team.
The intention is not to change the world or a company. It’s to start taking a stance that leads you somewhere instead of constantly dodging bullets.
There are more ways to get unstuck. Let me know in the comments if you want me to expand this topic.
🎈Share this if you think this might help somebody to make things happen in their team.