Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Virtues of Consistency in Managers

I think I've recounted this before, but I'll do it again.  Early in my managerial career I exploded at an employee, using some curse words.  My boss, actually the deputy director of the division, counseled me in a session I've remembered.  (Of course I had to apologize to the employee.)  Also in the division was another branch chief, Lew, a WWII veteran of D-Day (I think his ship was sunk) who was, to stereotype, a volatile Italian-American, and a male chauvinist. (This was 1975 or so.) One of his section chiefs was a young woman, Linda, who was new to management.  I think the conversation happened some months after a reorganization of the division.

Anyhow, the deputy director noted that while putting Lew as Linda's boss seemed counter-intuitive, he thought it was working.  The key factor was that Lew was consistent, so Linda could learn to adapt to his ways.  By contrast, if your manager was unpredictable, erupting occasionally while usually being emotionally withdraw (i.e, like me), it was hard for employees to adapt, to learn what worked and what didn't.

The lesson rang true to me then, and I've found subsequent experience confirming it.  With this in mind, I fear our President-elect will not be a good manager.  His subordinates will get tired of his changes of directions, and start withholding problems/information which might trigger bad decisions.  And that withholding may lead to bigger problems.

We'll see.

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