Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Management means no friendship?

Not so long ago I partook in a long discussion related to whether or not a manager can have friends among his subordinates. As I remember, the vast majority people in management role believe there is no problem having friendly relationships with your teammates.

But I remember another very successful manager (a top manager) who kept saying "you should not be a friend to your people", "you should not go to lunch with them". Since then I keep replaying this through my mind and all the time it responds with "It is wrong", so I cannot adopt this thinking.

To me, building unnatural barriers is counterproductive. Open communication is a key to effective professional relationships. People are smart enough to pick up the signs of too artificial behavior. They will mind a reason behind it and will start doing the same. So they will never be open with you.

The same top manager once told me "why you cannot speak to me frankly?" How could I if I did not trust him because of his ways of managing people?! That was kind of paradox that we could not solve. I guess he had same problems with others. I heard it many times that people preferred to talk to him what he wanted to hear, not what they thought. No need to say that he was not able to manage the team effectively. So, despite of his experience I would say that he was wrong. Friendly open relationships help managers doing the job. It does not free people up of the responsibility; it rather imposes the responsibility on them. Subordinates tend to feel badly when they did not do things right, when they couldn't keep the promises not only to a manager, but to a friend as well.

Of course, this way of management works not for all of people you will encounter in your managerial career. As I always liked to say "In management there are always several ways to do the same. The way that you like is not the only one. So, keep learning."

It may also depend on the culture. If you have anything to say on this matter I would gladly hear that.

What do you all think? Long to seeing your comments…

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