Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

What are the Two Most Destructive Obstacles to a Productive Workplace?


Two of the most destructive obstacles to the work environment we call Open Heaven are Kingdoms and Territories.  Kings rule with absolute authority and with absence of accountability.  There is no questioning allowed as to the equality, logic, or justice of his decrees – they are law, period.  And if not obeyed, a price will be paid.  A king’s power lies in his ability to dominate. Kingdoms create “classes” of people, establishing superiority (and more importantly, inferiority).  Everyone knows and must accept their status.

Territories set up perimeters and zones that need to be guarded and defended.  Whether physical, emotional, or political, territories tell others, “This is my area – STAY OUT!!!”  This is an area I must protect.  This is my piece of the kingdom allotted to me, which I have authority over.  In effect, I will follow the example of the king, and rule over my territory in the same way the king rules over the kingdom, and I will live in fear of losing control.

Historically, kingdoms and territories breed alliances and propagate subversion.  All seven of the “traditional” managerial types (see Preface) live in fear of losing control.  They work hard at setting up their kingdoms, establishing authority, and maintaining the “class” structure.  They promote individual territories among staff, creating a hierarchy of multiple “little kingdoms” each jealously ruled by different members of staff.

The Lords of these smaller kingdoms must constantly battle for the favor of the King.  By pitting Lord against Lord, the King rests comfortably.  When Lords are plotting against one another, the King is safe.  In other words, the King is more concerned with his “presence of authority” – his ego – than the effectivity of his kingdom.

All seven of these traditional styles create dissension and discord among employees.  Each of these managers, in their own way, directly affects how the staff feels about their surroundings, how they react to others in their surroundings, and how they judge others because of their surroundings.  Like it or not, as manager I am responsible for setting the tone in the workplace.

Eventually, Lords wise up, align, overthrow the King, and then return to fighting among themselves for the spoils.

Imagine what the workplace might be like if all that plotting, creativity, and effort was directed into effectivity of the department instead.

That’s why we call it “Open Heaven.”

As manager, I must put on my Mentor hat and be vigilant in measuring the “pulse” of my department and the business as a whole.  I need to be aware when territories are being developed and take prompt action to rectify the situation before a problem develops (and problems will develop).  People have an inherent need for a place of safety, a place to call their own, and because of this need they often confuse Boundaries with Territories.

Territories vs. Boundaries

Don’t make the mistake of equating territories with boundaries.  At first glance, it may seem they are alike, but believe me, they’re not.  Each is unique unto itself and generate very different outcomes.

Territories                                 vs.                                  Boundaries

must be defended                                                          must be respected

repel others                                                                  invite others to participate

builds walls                                                                      breaks down walls

isolate                                                                                 bring together

shuts down communication                                          opens communication

creates dissension                                                          promotes cooperation

retard efficiency                                                              nurtures effectivity

As mentor, I must instruct staff on the difference between boundaries and territories, and assist them in understanding the benefits of boundaries.  But first, I must live the example of setting and maintaining healthy boundaries because no one will listen to or believe me if they don’t see me living it (say what you mean and mean what you say).

As mentor, I am a servant, not a king, of my people.  My main concern and objective is their well-being.  With equality and my support and assistance, they are free to do the job for which they were hired in the first place.  If I get out of their way and not micromanage and if they feel comfortable and safe to ask for my assistance when needed, they become self-motivated.  They evolve into Career-Minded employees instead of Job-Minded.

excerpt from “The Manager as Engineer of the Work Environment”


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October 2, 2010 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Employee Coaching, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring | , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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