April Fools and Fair Weather Managers

Einstein’s contribution to science is elegantly précised by the equation  E = mc².  This is unfortunately the best I can offer …

But it is based on three decades of observation and experience, inside and outside of management.  This is how it works …

As a manager, what do you find hardest, makes you most uncomfortable, to be avoided at all costs, and wherever possible?  Is it …

  1. Spending time with your team: working out what they need, pitching-in, pulling together, but having to justify decisions made by higher management?  Or …
  2. Spending time with other managers, making decisions that affect your team, but ‘away’ from your team, often doing your best to keep things from your team?

In other words, whose side are you on?  (1) Your team’s, or (2) Management’s.  If you’re more comfortable spending all your time with other managers, but would rather not have to face your team with the decisions made, you know which you are!

On that basis, it boils down to this.  This is universal* …

(* True, there are other values that sum to the total of what a manager does with their time but they’re negligible (in terms of their contribution to the MEQ); in practice, everything hinges on the ratio of tT and tM.)

And this isn’t static, of course.  The values of tT and tM, and thus their MEQ, can vary over time as a manager’s approach changes: some get better but some get worse!

Some of the very best managers I’ve known have avoided contact with other managers at all costs.  Aside from the normal demands of admin and job-specific work (for example in an academic environment, teaching and research), they’ve spent all the time left over with their team.  If they manage to achieve that for any given period, then, whatever that team-time might be gives an MEQ of tT / (tT + 0) = tT / tT = 1.  At the other end of the scale, a manager that feels more comfortable with other managers but avoids their own team entirely gets MEQ = 0 / (0 + tM) = 0 / tM = 0.  A practical example of a manager who reluctantly spends two hours a week with their team, but the rest of it with other managers might have MEQ = 2 / (2 + 18) = 2 / 20 = 1/10th or 0.1.  etc. …

So where’s your boss?  (Or where are you?)

About Vic Grout

Chair, Clwyd South Labour Party; Professor of Computing Futures, Wrexham Glyndwr University View all posts by Vic Grout

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