Dinner with friends this evening.
Over and during a flurry of chopsticks, my buddy Shaun proceeds to describe to me something I really can’t comprehend; an environment of feral managers, intoxicated with some ridiculous sense of power and control; lunatics who treat their teams like inmates who have no alternatives and even fewer expectations.
He’s a Sr. Developer, serving in a Lead Developer role. (Pretty timely, huh?)
Shaun starts telling me his story…and I’m fighting back the urge to blurt “Victim!”
His project is falling apart. His Project Manager continues to mismanage the project. The dev team is forced to work long days and weekends to try to keep the project on track. The others on the team aren’t willing to speak up, so he feels like he is alone when he raises concerns – about quality, about the project, about morale. His team feels the same, but they aren’t prepared to speak up.
When Shaun does escalate to the Project Manager, nothing happens. When he escalates to his Development Manager, nothing happens. When he escalates to the Project Office Manager, still nothing happens.
It isn’t even that nothing changes; its that nothing changes AND he has no idea whether or not anyone tried to do anything. He doesn’t know if those he depends upon have gone to bat for him or his team.
For caring enough to raise concerns; for caring enough to do his part, my friend Shaun is rewarded with a heavy dose of betrayal.
And his team? He feels like he has failed them.
“What else can I do? I don’t feel like I’ve been a victim – but no one is listening. What am I supposed to do about that? What do you suggest I do?”, and I am paralyzed. Speechless. This man works for people who are more interested in being “right” than in doing “the right thing”.
Leads, Supervisors, Managers, Directors, and so on, I implore you to recognize that you work for your team(s); they do not work for you.
The weight of the world…and I couldn’t muster a single encouraging word for him. I couldn’t help him find a way out. His principles and how much they are worth to him are his alone to weigh, but no associate should be allowed to find themselves in a situation like that, in an environment like that.
But, someone will read this and assume it is about someone else. Someone will tell themselves a story which supports their org-chart-power and megalomaniacal tendencies.
And someone will lose believers, followers, associates…
So, support your teams. Enable them. Encourage them. Reward them. Make them better. Help them grow. Exceed their expectations. Fight for them. Listen to them. Knock down barriers for them. And trust them.