Forums

Hi Everyone. This is my first post but I've been listening to the Podcasts for about a year and a half. I am a General Manager for a retail company that deals with clothing for 13-20 year olds.
I listen to your podcasts religiously and am a dedicated reader of HBR, Fortune and I have listened to your podcasts 2-5 times a piece.
The problem that I find is that as a frontline manager I feel like I'm listening and learning and doing my best to implement yet up the chain of command no one else follows your rules.
I think they are fantastic and I use them with my directs, which I only have three assistant managers and two dozen associates and they work wonders. Coaching and Feedback models are my life thanks to you.
My peers and my District and Regional Managers are where I'm having my problems. During presentations and conference calls, I am in awe of the lack of commitment and professionalism that is displayed yet no one seems to care.
I recently moved to a new market where I am the low man on the totem pole although I've been with this company for over six years. Of course, their are certain managers that have already gained favor in the eyes of our leaders and as I try to break through I find that none of the stuff that I learn here is really relevant other than the fact that following your feedback gets me better results than everyone else. That should be enough, I think.
I guess, what I'm trying to say is that considering I'm not at an executive level I do not have the opportunity to apply everything that I learn here although I would love it. I sit by and let poor performance of my peers get recognized and I'm left unnoticed although my statistical results are much better than those around me. It's so frustrating to me and I want them to know that I can offer so much more yet they don't seem to care.
I will say this. About a month ago, I started reporting to a new district manager. I confronted her with something that she was not doing consistently that we as managers rely on her doing. I used the feedback model and at the end all I said was "If you could try to be consistent with this it would make everyone's life much easier." She said thank you and that was that. Then on the next conference call she said that she had received feedback from somebody and that it was great feedback and that she would make the effort to correct it. So, that made me feel great that something Managers Tools has taught me made a difference when dealing with my boss.
I guess I'm just frustrated that everyone doesn't listen to your show.

Thank you for everything.

Mike

juliahhavener's picture

Mike,

I feel your pain. You can't change people above you. You can only do EXACTLY what you are doing and let your successes speak for themselves. As you do, inevitably the opportunity to share MT will come to you. People will do with that information what they will, but the opportunity will come. Your best bet is to succeed, keep your resume up to date, and move up in the company so YOU can be the one to manage it down.

tomas's picture

Mike,

I agree with Julia, just keep doing what you are doing. You cannot change those higher up than you in the organisation. Your situation is frustrating, but pretty normal at the same time.

You need to be careful not to criticise your managers or your peers for not following good management practices, which can be hard at times. There is a podcast on managing your boss (21 Jan 2006), so that would be worth listening to if you haven't already.

As for not getting the recognition you feel you deserve, well, improving you management skills and learning how to maximise your teams performance is a reward in itself. You will take your management skills with you wherever you go, and you will eventually achieve success if you stick with it.

Thomas

jhack's picture

Retail is tough and competitive. Most of the larger retailers pay close attention to numbers, and if your performance is solid, that will be recognized over time.

Make sure to work on your internal network. Several forces will be at work (your manager looks better because your numbers are better, your peers look worse, your manager wonders if you might move up, skip levels above start to notice, etc). A strong network will help you navigate.

Finally, Thomas's suggestion of the "Managing your Boss" podcast is a good one. Your new manager sounds reasonable. You can really have an impact working with her.

John

US41's picture

I won't assume you do this, but I do it, so just in case, I will share a weakness of mine on the off chance it may help you. I have to be very, very careful about feeling that frustration. I am one of those people who's emotional state is very, very easy to read. People know how I feel unless I pay close attention to controlling my behavior and emotions.

In The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene, he has an opening paragraph that describes the one thing that all powerful people have in common: emotional control. They are all able to smile when they want to cry or scream and breath slowly and calmly even when they are nervous or in fear for their lives. Emotional control is perhaps the Holy Grail of political power. With it, you are empowered to accomplish almost anything.

Be careful that your management does not observe or hear any behavior of yours EVER that would tip them off that you think you know more than they do. If they do, they will label you a threat and a trouble-maker, and they will conclude you are arrogant and yet a political fool and therefore NOT cut out for management.

I have given that impression so many times in my career I cannot count them all. I wish I could take back all of the many conversations I have had with bosses over the years where I tried to teach them how to do their jobs right and expressed outrage or frustration with how "stupid" the company, senior leadership, latest project, latest advertisement, newest system, latest policy change, or their behavior was.

The truth is that a high IQ is a double-edged sword. Most CEO's are not geniuses, and the reason for that is, as Mark and Mike rant about regularly, is that RELATIONSHIPS are the key. People like other people that they feel that they are superior to or equal to. If you give people the impression you are smarter than they are, they will recoil from you out of fear, or they will assume that your high IQ comes with a low EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) so typical of geeks & nerds where they are smart with information and stupid with people.

Since management success, power, influence, etc are all about fitting in and building strong relationships, letting on that you think you know more than your boss is like drinking poison and hoping it kills your boss.

It won't. Trust me. I have a career of burned bridges behind me to show for it.

Even worse, never complain about your boss to anyone anywhere at any time. As soon as you do, someone will find out and report it back - especially if they view you as an up and coming threat or someone smarter than they are. They will be in the next row of cubes, around the corner from you, standing behind you, walking past, or simply not really as trustworthy of a friend.

If you ever say anything about your boss that is negative, he will hear about it within hours... maybe minutes. I use a nick-name here for that reason - and I still would never say anything other than my boss rocks!!!

It's great that we all learn these techniques, but beware anyone learning that you believe they are not good managers or that you know how to do it better than they do. The first law of power is "Never outshine the master." Your boss probably assumes they know more than you because they are the boss and you aren't. The political reality is that you have to play to that belief or risk torching your relationship with your boss.

jhack's picture

US41, very interesting post. Good points in there.

One thing that works for me is to focus my energy on the things that those above me do well. The things that got them promoted. What are they doing that I need to do? Sure, they have weaknesses, but what are the strengths? And how can I develop them?

I've never met a boss who didn't do some things well.

John

WillDuke's picture

Interesting thread. I agree with what others have said about staying the course. I would add that as long as you keep doing what you're doing, as long as your team keeps succeeding, you're probably going to be in good shape. Eventually someone will notice.

"Hey, Mike's retention rate is really high."
"Hey, why do people ask to transfer to Mike's team?"
"Hey, Mike's numbers are making me look really good."
"Hey, Mike's always there helping out when I need him."

If you don't want to wait for that to happen, and why would you? Can I suggest a book I read a few years ago "Brag, the art of tooting your own horn without blowing it" by Peggy Klaus. She talks extensively about how to self-promote gracefully. You might find it an interesting read.

It sounds like your new boss is very open. I'd follow up with more communication. Above all, be honest with her, for example.
* Tell her how much you appreciated her taking your feedback seriously. Tell her you appreciate having a boss like that.
* Let her know that you know how to be a team player. Find out what you can do for her. What are her goals and how can you be a part of achieving them? Let her know that you're doing this because you want to be part of a winning team and have those successes on your resume as well.

Don't bullshit her. Don't kiss her a**. Nobody you want to work for appreciates obsequiousness. If you trust her, tell her the truth. Imagine what your dream direct would do for you. Now be that dream direct for her.

RichRuh's picture

Some really good advice here.

US41, [b]great[/b] post. If I could go back to when I was young and foolish and do things differently... (sigh).

--Rich

michaelami's picture

Thank you all for responding. I must say that I was thrilled with the fact that you were responsive to my situation. US41- I must say that the Powers book is one of the best reads that I have ever incorporated into my life and it has got me where I am today. Not where I want to be. But it is one of those books that taught me to sit tight and follow a model that would sooner or later get me to where I want to be.
I also want to thank the rest of you for responding because it lets me know that I am not the only one that has ever dealt with this. Sometimes I feel like I am. The community here is fantastic and your feedback is brilliant! I wrote my post last night. My first post. I felt like people would ignore it and let the fact that I'm young and not a senior manager be one of those things where you expect this situation and expect me to expect it as well.
I guess that I knew your answers before hand but your guidance made me take a step back and realize that I just need to chill out take a step back and continue to do the things that Mark and Mike suggest and I will sooner or later be recognized for it.
Thanks again,

Mike

juliahhavener's picture

Mike,

Congratulations on your first AND second posts. I've asked some really stupid questions (in my mind) and gotten great responses. Some questions end up on really in-depth and odd-ball tangents - yet everyone comes away with something new. It's wonderful to learn from senior people - and people rowing the same boat I do. It's also a real eye opener when I find that I get it right and can offer something to someone with more experience than I have...particularly since I often benefit from their experiences!

tomas's picture

"Every man I meet is my superior in some way. In that, I learn of him."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

No matter how much you feel that your manager is ignorant about management, the one inescapable fact is that they are the boss and you are not, and you therefore have something to learn from them.

Also, those decisions that appear illogical and ill-conceived when your boss makes them often take on a different complexion when viewed from your boss's perspective.

evangilf's picture

I also worked in a retail environment and felt like there were things the company was doing (or not doing) that were simply going to drive the business into the ground. I thought I was smarter than everyone else and that I was the only one that saw the path through treacherous waters. Maybe I was right. Maybe not. But the truth is it doesn't matter.

What does matter is doing the job correctly. Do your best, implement procedures that you know will be effective, and maximize your opportunities to succeed. If change follows and you get rewarded....great! If not, well...maybe it's time to review the Interviewing Series.

Mark's picture

Sorry more folks aren't listening. ;-)

Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should not wish to do less. (Lee).

Every solider has a Marshal's baton in his knapsack. (Napoleon).

Yes, but he shouldn't let it stick out. (Ogilvy).

Results and Relationships Rule. (Horstman).

It's time to start your Delta File. (Horstman: keep a list of things you'll change as you get more responsibility.)

Sorry this took so long.

Mark

jwyckoff's picture

[quote="mahorstman"]
It's time to start your Delta File. (Horstman: keep a list of things you'll change as you get more responsibility.)
[/quote]

Very interesting concept, Mark. I assume there will be a cast soon on this? :)

Mark's picture

Jason-

Some things stand on their own. No cast coming on the Delta File. Just...keep one. Pretty self explanatory. :wink:

Mark

Dani Martin's picture

Hi Mike! I think all MT managers have experienced those feelings of frustration.

One of the things I do during those moments is picture the faces of my directs. I actually imagine them in my mind's eye. I picture the looks on their faces when I give them positive feedback or when they have a big success. Then I remember all the extra hours they put in, all the junk they put up with day in and day out. And I ask myself "Would I want anyone else managing my team?" The answer, of course, is NO!!

That's what keeps me going. They deserve to be managed well and I can give them that.

I'm a high D/I, but here's a little of my S coming out. :D

michaelami's picture

I just signed up for premium content! Thanks for your input! I just signed up for PREMIUM CONTENT! I'm very excited!

Thank you all.