Yesterday I said that “as the Program Manager it is your responsibility to make sure your team has what they need to succeed” (see Resource Poaching 101). The reality is that this is the responsibility of every manager, not just the program manager. This seems obvious but if this is true then why is it that when you walk into your bosses office with a problem it seems like he/she hasn’t got a clue what you are talking about.
There could be lots of reasons why they don’t have a clue, remember they are only human after all. Maybe they’re having a bad day, maybe they’re having a senior moment (anyone who reports to me is probably voting for this one already), maybe they just don’t care, or maybe it’s something else all together. Whatever the reason, the important thing is to know how to tell if your manager truly supports you and your program.
Bottom line: how do they respond to your needs?
- Did they help you to discover how to solve the problem without their direct intervention?
- If so, cool, this is one of the best outcomes because it doesn’t look like your only way to solve a problem, especially a conflict, is to run to your boss. Remember, running to the teacher didn’t work on the school yard and it doesn’t work for long in corporate America.
- If yes, then I say forgive the momentary lapse of memory (haven’t you ever walked into a room and said “Now why did I come in here?”).
- If no, then you need to manage your manager and go back to them just in case they had a second senior moment.
- If they still don’t follow through it is time to find someone who will (ask yourself who besides your manager has a vested interest solving the issue you or your team face).
- If they follow through this time, great, but be wary if this happens too often. Only you can determine if that’s the case.
- If this is the case, you have a choice to make:
- Find someone else to assist you;
- Do nothing and hope it gets better (not the best career move);
- Escalate: That can be tricky, but done properly it can be powerful without burning too much political capital;
- Take matters into your own hands and do what you think needs to be done;
- Finally, you’re intelligent enough to figure out at least one more option.
Now, if you are a (program) manger, turn the tables and ask yourself “How do I respond to my team?” Is it a good picture?