(The Humanitarian Social Network)
I'm keenly aware that I'm the only one saying anything in this group right now... if nothing else, this can be my own personal rant space :)
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For an industry so obsessed with "participatory process" and "empowerment" and making sure the everyone has "voice", and that against all logic seems determined to be "more like the corporate sector", we certainly seem to suffer more than our fair share of appallingly bad management.
I'm fortunate to have a good boss who doesn't micro-manage or throw me under the buss. But I look around, both inside and outside my own employing agency, and I'm like, "seriously? WTF?"
Here are my personal rules for aid-sector management:
1) Never ever ever throw your staff under the bus. If I have to clean house internally, I will. If someone on my team is dropping the ball, I will deal with it. But if you come to me with a complaint about someone I supervise, be advised that it better be based in fact and it better be an issue of substance because I will back them up by default. Don't put people you supervise into tough/difficult situations unless you're prepared to provide top-cover.
2) Assume that your staff can do their jobs, and manage them accordingly. If it's clear that they can't, train them or put them into a role where they can succeed. But don't micro-manage. Micro-management makes staff unhappy, makes the boss look like a douche, and hurts program quality.
3) It's just a reality that people complain about their bosses. Even really good bosses. If you supervise people, assume that at some point they'll complain about you. Take seriously the complaints that matter. Let the happy-hour ranting slide.
4) Invest as much as you possibly can in your staff/team. Approve every training or professional upgrade option for your staff that you possibly can. If they want to learn French and you have the budget and can approve it, approve it. If they want to add two days onto their field visit to attend a workshop on whatever, let them. If someone you supervise has the opportunity to go for a better job, support them. (I take it as a compliment when other agencies try to steal "my" staff.)
5) Don't BS your team about what you can and cannot do for them. Just sayin'
Those are my rules. Maybe you have others to add or disagree. Use the thread below........
From the rules you mentioned, number 1 is definitely the one that scores the most on my book. Loyalty is very important for me. Mutual trust is the foundation of any team.
Another one which is very important for me is 6) Lead by example. If I ever get to a position where I am managing people, I think that will be my priority number 1. If I want my team to be efficient, efficiency has to be my middle name. If there is a need to get hands dirty, you should be the first sticking your hands in.
Which leads us to 7) Don't put any team-member in a position where s/he will have to do something you wouldn't (there are many caveats, of course, but you know what I mean).
J - I agree with you - as always! ; - )
I would add that as part of the overall discussion of competencies and professionalism in the sector (I assume we mean humanitarian and development as part of that happy continuum?) that professional management requires humility.
1. You need to be humble in an international context because many times you are dealing with people/cultures/situations that you are unable to understand in depth as you simply don't have time. Therefore, assuming that staff working for you might have something to teach you or simply a very different method of achieving things is a good place to start. (I guess this links to point 1 - trust. However, I think it's much harder to trust people when you really don't understand the process they are using to achieve something).
2. You need professional humility as you cannot be expert on every part of the sector. I do not know how to do procurement to international standards at speed, therefore I assume professionalism on the part of the other person until they've been proven an idiot (one way to check if they are an idiot is a) they cannot explain in any known language what they need to do. b) the results are catastrophically bad - even when opinions are triangulated amongst a range of recipients of the disaster). I have regularly been told I am doing a bad job by a person who doesn't know what a good job would look like. See point 2 of your list. This is usually generated by a complaint by someone that the manager assumes must be right - see point 1.
I think that trust is very hard to build between managers and staff at the best of times, muddle it up with language/cultural/time/space/distance barriers and it becomes all the more difficult.
So my extra 'rules' were: Be humble, and Learn from your staff and then tell them if it made a difference - to the work, to your skills etc.
Bringing in bribes like Belgian chocolates when you've had a crappy week and behaved like a complete a****e also helps!
Another addition to the list: