Managers are like the coaches of teams. They should have your best intentions in mind. Their job is to facilitate and communicate better than the average employee to enable the people they manage to do their jobs better.
But what if your manager sucks at communication?
I work in a design firm as a developer. If you’ve ever been in that position you know what a mindfuck that is.
Design works with quick turnaround times and can handle small revisions better since it’s only a visual change.
Development work has logic involved and often has interconnected parts. So what would seem like a simple change can take quite a bit more than 10 minutes. Even more, if the small change touches a lot of other parts of the code or if the change is in the foundations of what you’ve built.
At least I can look forward to my commute to and from work since I’ve optimised those processes.
Most of the people in the company, including the managers are more used to a design timeline and set their expectations accordingly.
Our team like a tiny tech startup inside another company. A small team or weirdos among fancy people. It started with a 4 person team and has grown to 8 people when we hired more full-timers and contractors. And that growth was too quick for management to have enough experience for a larger project.
Now here’s where my issue with my manager comes in. He doesn’t really respect his team as much as he respects the client. His team communication skills suck when the pressure is on. When we took on a larger project it was too much for him to chew.
Rather than fostering an environment of communication and cooperation, I regularly have to practice emotional mastery just to get through the day.
Here are a few examples:
Apparently he believes in Nags to Riches. I feel sorry for the guy’s kids.
The worst part is that he actually tries to hide things within the company.
Our company is proud of its flat structure where everyone can talk to anyone. It was actually one of the selling points they had when I first joined the company. So we can regularly talk to the owners directly. It promotes openness and communication.
One of our projects went behind in development. The client had slashed the budget and had set an unreasonable deadline just because someone at the top wanted to get it done at that date.
It was highly ambitious given that we didn’t know anything about half of the requirements and for a few months only I was available to work on it.
We had expertise on the other half of the requirements but I didn’t have that expertise because I was hired for something else.
So I was learning, fumbling and making slow progress using tutorials and asking colleagues when they had time.
In a progress meeting when one of the owners of the company asked my manager how confident were we in reaching the deadline, point-blank he just said we were fairly confident.
The project wasn’t too far behind for it to have employment ramifications but saying that we were ‘fairly confident’ was far from the truth.
It just irks me to no end. I do hope it’s not affecting my default resting face in any way.
This resulted in some unpaid overtimes and the expectation that you will work some weekends.
The tough project, the lack of experience, and coupled with the fact that he’s managing 4 others is too much for him to handle.
Imagine a sports team where everyone thinks they’re the star player. Even if their individual skill is awesome, they couldn’t give a damn about what the other players are doing because it’s all about them.
If you match up a team of players who don’t communicate with a team of less skill but communicate well and respect each other, we know who will lose.
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Not to mention that a team with bad cohesion won’t really last long. Members will want to escape altogether.
We all have teams in our life. In work, our hobbies like sports, our neighbours – these are all teams.
For me, the most important team is my family. And it’s of the utmost importance for me to have great communication with my family. This is why I share everything with PikiMom.
Even if we do have disagreements having them out is better than not saying them at all. One of my long term goals is to have a healthy and communicative relationship with my family.
Teams are not born, they are made. And with every team in our life, we must strive to foster that cooperative environment where the individual members can contribute their best.
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My manager is not the worst one there is. I’ve heard horror stories from other people, especially from people who work in countries where the power balance is heavily biased towards management and they’re not hesitant to flex this power. Mainly Asian countries where most of our team comes from.
He’s in a high-stress situation himself so I can understand pressure bringing people to a boil (like myself, obviously). He is also probably trying to protect his job. But there is a lot of room for improvement.
We moved to New Zealand to actually avoid high-pressure work cultures so encountering it here feels unnecessary.
I still work in the same company but I will talk to him more soon about his management style and how to work better with me at least.
That’s my part of the equation.
Or maybe I can just keep quiet and continue practicing emotional mastery?
Am I being a complainy-pants? What difficult encounters have you had with teammates?