Wednesday, 21 February 2018

The senior management paradox

I've been thinking about this for a while now.

Let's call this thing "The Senior Management paradox", because that's pretty much what it is.

So, basically I'm doing my thing as a PM and I get the usual "why does it take so long to do 'x'?", to which I explain patiently about the people's priorities and them perhaps not viewing our request for info as importantly as their day job, hence our request getting ignored.

The manager then suggests that he could sort it out much quicker.  The request at this point would be coming from a senior manager, so people would see the request as coming from a greater height.  Perhaps it is unnecessary to point out here, rather than from someone who is lower down the food chain to a point where they're being paid much less than the job that they do - but it's my blog, so skip over this if you feel it irrelevant.

I took time to ponder this later.  Every time that the guy intervenes, he weakens his own position because instead of him being moving and shaking at high level, he's dealing with low down stuff.  As his position gets more micro, he ceases to maintain the macro view and therefore is no longer moving and shaking anymore.  Once he's not moving and shaking, then he ceases to have the power, therefore is no longer effective.  The only way that they can affect the situation is by doing it via their moving and shaking, i.e across the tree, affecting downwards.

So what's the point of this?  Is it a diatribe about how I should get paid more?

Not particularly, it's more about how you need to be careful about how demanding you are for speed.  The PM is in a difficult space, as they neither do the work, nor have the power to command resource.  So, as a senior manager, you may think that you're putting your foot on the pedal, but the reality is that you're putting it on the PM's neck…and that's not healthy for anyone.

Basically, it's about power bases.  The senior manager gets his power base by who he knows.  Techies (usually) get their power base by what they know.  The lowly PM has to act somewhere in between and that's where the interpersonal skills come in.  However, no amount of interpersonal skills are sufficient to force people to do something that they don't have time to do, and are actively supported not to by their own line management chain.

No comments:

Post a Comment