I am a new listener to the Manager Tools podcasts and I have found them to be very helpful as I develop as a manager.

I work for a large company that has found it wise to fill pretty much every management position in the facility with someone promoted from the production floor. On one hand it is nice to know those opportunities exist, on the other hand what it has lead to is a lack of skilled managers and almost no leadership to speak of. The workforce is union and thrives on the lack of management skills like sharks on a hunt. It is very frustrating as the top managers want to play "good cop, bad cop" and I am sure you can figure out who wants to be good cop.

This environment does not make it comfortable to step outside the existing structures and attempt to make changes to improve the culture and to create expectations based on a vision that empowers all employees. I joined the company just over a year ago and I am frustrated with the void of leadership.

How would any of you move forward in this environment?

I appreciate your feedback.

mattpalmer's picture

I deal with this by not letting others' lack of management activity get in my way.  I manage my people the MT way, build relationships with everyone I can as best I can.  These relationships allow me to work the system somewhat to shield my people from the worst of the damage that can be done by bad management in the upper echelons.  All this results in my corner of the world being a (relative) haven of productivity and job satisfaction.  This gets noticed sooner or later, and up you go, gradually disseminating the MT Way(TM) to larger and larger parts of the organisation.

To address your concern that the "environment doesn't make it comfortable [...] to make changes", if you're looking for a comfortable job, management is not for you.  There's a popular saying (amongst MT, anyway) about "pursuing the hard right, rather than the easy wrong", and the "hard right" in this case is to work hard to be an effective manager, despite not having an environment conducive to it.

dej64's picture

I appreciate your response. I am not uncomfortable being a manager and fully understand that management is not a job of comfort. I am much more of the concern that as upper management observes the changes being made the MT way, they will be concerned that I am trying to upstage them or to make them look bad. The ladder here is very flat and the track record has been that non-conformity to the SOP of "how we do business" is not loooked upon kindly.

I guess the answer is to do things the right way and deal with consequences as they come. I like my job and the people I work with.

Thanks again for your response.

mattpalmer's picture

If I'm going to get fired, I want it to be because I was doing the right things for the right reasons, rather than because I was "following
instructions" and keeping my head down -- and being utterly ineffective.
At any rate, an important part of my strategy (half-arsed as it is) is the building of relationships.  I didn't emphasise that enough in my previous   
message.  If the people who could crush you like an ant happen to think you're a great person, then you'll have a hell of a lot more leeway than if 
you come in guns blazing, showing them all up for the ineffective dolts they are.  Does this suck?  Yes, it does.  As a dyed-in-the-wool high-D (7114, to be precise), my natural outlook is "to hell with your feelings, results are all that matters!".  However, I've come to understand that relationships    
*help* me get better results, and so I accept that I've got to be more of a "people person" to get the results that I desire.