Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 March 2019

Hands-on manager states his case clearly

Workplace doctor: A manager asks where he is allowed to get his hands dirty rather than sit back and watch others do the work.

I get sucked into the world of tasks because, frankly, I love my job. I love the craft of it. But as a manager, I am expected to sit back and watch others do the work. Am I missing something here, or is there room in this crazy world for a manager who actually works? Joe, Sharjah

Two juries wish to present their respective cases for this inquiry, Joe, agreeing to represent "management" as a maintenance functionality, one that ensures continuing flow of operational productivity, commonly applying the skills of directing, controlling and resourcing.

Jury A wishes to pass on heartfelt congratulations for finding something you love and feel passionate about. Many people spend their whole lives looking for this and may never find it. Some may even say it is true connection, measured by time seeming to stand still and all is surrounded by clarity and harmony. Many craftsmen morph into artisans; perhaps that is happening to you, and even extending into your personal time, too.

On the other side of the courtroom, the interest of Jury B has been piqued by the words "a manager who actually works" Is there a supposition here, that being if one is not completing a task, one is not working? If so, it is argued that busyness is most certainly at the heart of all you do, Joe. It can further be argued that busyness, the act of maintaining activity regardless of whether it is contributing positively, does not equate to business, a growth and development function serving people and profits to which managers and leaders contribute

Jury B now requests further time at the bench, presenting historical trends of busyness as a masquerade for disconnected managers, a mask that often covers real issues lurking below. Jury B refers to: Case 456B - March 2012: concluded that managers fall into a state of busyness when they feel it would be quicker and easier to do it themselves, as others simply can't perform, or may perform better or worse than them.

The core issue was exposed as a lack of trust in others and self.

Case 270A - December 2011: concluded that busyness is often covering fears, such as opinions of others if mistakes were apparent, yet most disturbing of all were the findings of Case 397K - January 2013: where evidence showed that busyness can purely be a cry for help, a plea to be noticed and a method to attract and receive external validation, compensating for a lack of internal validation from self.

Suddenly, Jury A interjects, requesting further input and two additional questions: What was your intention of moving into the ranks of management, Joe? While you are busily completing all the tasks, what happens around you - how are the elements of the environment responding?

A witness is called to the stand. He recalls his experience of working with an experienced, efficient and competent manager, one who is there for support at all times.

Job descriptions had a clear purpose, indicating who was to do what, and linked to the accountability of results of not just the role, but the whole department. It was noted that training, coaching and counselling of all team members were vital elements of effective management as well as clarity of communication and genuine care and interest in the team.

The doctor's prescription

Both juries are out for now - is it time to reflect and feel which of the viewpoints resonated most with you, Joe? Could it be that both juries are actually from the same side of the courtroom after all?


Deb Nicol, the managing director of Dubai-based Business En Motion, is a consultant on leadership and organisational development, strategic change and corporate culture. Email her at debbie.nicol@businessenmotion.com for the workplace doctor's advice on your challenges, whether as an employee, a manager or a colleague

Updated: April 3, 2013 04:00 AM



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