When managers have a fear of confrontation, they often turn to manipulation for the solution.
The manipulation, in turn, can cause a loss of trust. Employees eventually catch on to the game and those who may of been in the know in the first place will wisely wonder, "If the boss plays games with my colleague, what is being done with me?"
The loss of trust, of course, is far worse than an unpleasant meeting.
Manipulators don't admit to their practices. They justify them by asserting that it is less disruptive to avoid confrontation, the employee would be unreasonable or there is no time to sort out the roots of the problem. What's worse is that sometimes the strategy works. There are moments when the clever deflection or avoidance of an issue does defuse a situation or matters resolve themselves. Occasionally, problems walk away.
The core danger of manipulation, however, is what it does to the manipulator. Bobbing and weaving can easily become a habit. Granted, managers who are as slippery as an eel may be otherwise competent.
You just won't want to turn your back on them.
Those that I bless are those that I read. If I do not bless, most likely I have not read.
The bosses in my almost 70 years that I respect the most were pretty generally disliked by others, but the common characteristic and the reason I liked working for them is that they were absolutely straight.
After a while, I didn't need to talk to them to find out how they would react (there were lots of other reasons to talk to them, but that wasn't one).
In a discussion about how to deal with a problem (a disagreement, actually) Mr. Moberg (I've forgotten his first name at the moment, we called him "Moe") said:
"We will do it my way-right or wrong, I am the one that has to go explain it to Danny (his boss)."
I don't even remember who was right that time.
Michael - Can you give some examples of what you consider to be manipulator tactics? I want to see if I'm on the same page? Thanks
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