Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The principle of reciprocity between managers

One of the principles I often bang on about in organisations or situations containing significant levels of ambiguity or uncertainty (see the earlier discussion about the difference between ambiguity and uncertainty) is the principle of reciprocity between managers.
The relationships and levels of communication between managers is critical if an organisation or team is going to successfully profit from an uncertain or ambiguous situation.

Fostering positive and professional working relationships between managers, looking for communication blockages and dealing with them and making sure there are active communications up and down the line are all part of this principle.

The number of times I go into an organisation which needs help to deal with an uncertain or ambiguous situation to find that the managers, whilst often well trained as individuals, are dysfunctional as a group and certainly aren't a close knit team in themselves. Petty infighting, managers going it alone, lack of trust and less than helpful relationships within the management team will often de-rail any efforts to get them to navigate and get creative with ambiguity. My team frequently have to get the managers aligned and communicating before we can really get to work. In fact quite a bit of the internal ambiguity and uncertainty is actually created by the management of the organisation in many cases. Too little emphasis is placed on this principle in organisations. More should be made of this in appraisals and competency frameworks where they exist, and it should certainly be a topic of conversation with managers of all grades. 

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