I met a friend of mine for coffee the other day, it was good to catch up. He mentioned that he’d had another new line manager in a sting of line managers recently. Some had left for other positions but some were as a result of restructuring. Either way it was quite unsettling and draining of time, but he goes along with it, complies with it, and doesn’t tell anyone but secretly he’s conducting his own covert research into good and bad management practice, from the range of managers he’s had recently he’s got quite a good test sample.
My friend is very capable in his position and is often just left to get on with it. He doesn’t cause any problems, he doesn’t need much support. And his new bosses soon realise this, and are possibly secretly relieved, it makes their life easier after all. My friend emailed his boss with an update on a project he was working on, and started the email with a curtious ‘how are you’ the reply which came back was no surprise, it’s something we are all feeling at the moment, ‘really busy, snowed under to be honest’
So, my friend is a kind hearted soul, he wants to support people, not add to any pressures, could easily read that as ‘don’t bother me, I haven’t got time’
To be fair, this boss isn’t unique. There’s many a time I have heard managers talk about how busy they are, how much work they have to do, how they are taking work home to be able to catch up, keep on top of things. And as their subordinate you’re often left with the feeling that you can’t then go and talk to them about your issue, your problem, you can’t ask for any support because they are already snowed under, you’ll only be adding to that work load, to that pressure they are under.
I’m very aware of this with my own team. They know I’m busy, usually because I’ve forgotten to do something, but I very rarely talk about the crap, the pressure, the increasing work load, because I never want them to feel that they can’t talk to me about anything which is an issue. I don’t want that underlying message to be ‘Don’t bother me, I haven’t got time’. However, I do wonder that because I don’t tell them about work loads, they often wonder what I actually do, other than sit in meetings most of the day, and maybe mess about on social media sites (all for work).
As we are all tasked with doing more for less (although this isn’t really possible) the feeling of being snowed under is going to continue, for all employees not just managers, and as managers we have to a duty of care to staff, just as someone has a duty of care to managers.