- On June 11, 2012
What if YOU are the ‘Atlas’ Manager?
In Part I we gave a name to this type of manager, the one who tries to do everything–the Atlas Manager. In Part II, I suggested a couple of ways if you are the team member to try to get the Atlas manager to loosen their grip and include others in the work. But, what if you ARE the Atlas Manager?
First of all, if you’ve read this with an increasing feeling of horror that this could be you. Congratulations! Like they say in AA, the first step is recognizing you have a problem.
If you are the manager, there’s one of three things most likely happening.
First possibility. You are SO busy that you can’t even come up for air, much less take a minute to read this and see if there is anything to learn. Hopefully, one of the prods from your co-worker (See Part II) has caused you to pause long enough to realize it would be nice to get something off your ‘to do’ list by sharing that task with someone else. This is a time management and prioritization problem. All’s that may be needed to reset is a gentle reminder to stop a minute and involve others.
Second possibility, is the scenario where you realize we just may be talking about you. You feel overwhelmed. You know how to get things done technically and administratively…after all that’s why they promoted you to manager…and you have been doing the same thing you always did except now there is so much more of it and it seems so all-consuming that you don’t have time to let anyone else in. This is a case where you haven’t quite figured out how to lead at the next level.
Maybe it’s time to go back to the planning skills that inevitably contributed to getting you to manager level. Part of that planning is taking a step back to assess where you–your experience, your insight–can make the biggest difference and start involving others in the areas that are not specific to your unique skills. Evaluate the risk of failure if your colleague doesn’t do it as perfectly or seamlessly as you think you do. Working with an executive or leadership coach at this point would be a very helpful strategy. A coach can help you generate alternatives to your current state, help you design an action plan, and help build your confidence to execute it.
Third possibility. You don’t trust the people you work with to do it right. You feed on the flurry of activity that surrounds the workload and enjoy the role of savior and MVP of glass ball juggling and crisis management. In the short term this works for you–you’re energized by the activity, your clients are happy with you for being so responsive, and your team is standing by (or cowering in their cubicles) ready to do whatever odd piece of research or reformatting that you toss at them. They only know the minimum they need to know and you are the center of the wheel, the only one who can pull all the pieces and parts together.
The issue here is more deep-seated than just workload and figuring out how to best plan to deal with it. The issue here is TRUST–Your lack of it with your team; their lack of trust in you to value their contribution. You may start to notice people leaving your team. In your mind, a sure sign that they couldn’t handle the pressure anyway. In their mind, finding another place where their contributions are valued. Once this cycle starts, it takes much longer to build a solid foundation for the team again.
In my experience it is very difficult to change the way you operate without some kind of outside intervention to create a mirror for the effects of what is happening. This is where a consultant specializing in Organization Development can help you and your team re-establish the trust necessary to move forward as an effective productive group. Group interventions, combined with leadership coaching to define and reinforce desired behaviors, can help you develop into a manager with a collaborative and appreciative world view rather than the solo manager weighted down by the burdens of the world.