Management as an interface and an ethical dilemma

Poor management practices are largely affected by the function of management as an interface between two inherently incompatible systems; the individual and the organisation.

There is an alienness about each other. An organisation doesn’t have a mind to empathise with the individual and its decisions are often obscured by the regulations of other organisations. The individual (of which there are many and they are varied) has motivations, experiences, feelings, and other stuff going on in their lives that the organisation isn’t aware of but which can affect the individuals work.

The manager is expected to represent the interests of the organisation to ensure its success at the cost of the individual if needs be, but at the same time is expected to care about the individuals they work with in order to represent them to the organisation. Management is an ethical dilemma. I can’t think of any other situation in life where a similar interface exists, so it’s hardly surprising that management practice is not achieving what we might hope for it.

Cascading mediocracy 

Three different people have explained managing a team to me as being about being able to let go of work, to allow the team members to do that work that you would have otherwise done even knowing that that won’t do as good a job as you would have.

I don’t accept that. I don’t think managing a team should be about accepting lower standards. If that’s the mindset of managers across an organisation then the more layers of management the organisation has the greater the cascading of mediocracy. And by the time it gets down to the bottom of the organisation the only quality work happens in spite of the mindset.

So, I’m not going to expect or accept that the people I work with will do a worse job than I would have done. I’m going to expect them to do it better than me. But I’m going to have to find ways to help them with that. That’s what management should be about; making the team stronger, more efficient, more effective, helping them level up.