April 16, 2020 | watsimp

The extrovert manager and the exhausted team

Remote working is throwing up new challenges every day. Jobs that companies swore could never be done remotely, are now done remotely. Well argued reasons (& excuses) for why everyone needs to be co-located or at least in an office are falling by the wayside. It’s one great global experiment for remote working and we expect that this will change the way we all work forever. In lots of positive ways!

The common refrain we are hearing from sales folk, post the lockdown is that sales cycles have slowed. Companies are deferring decisions or slowing down spend. The life of a salesperson has become harder. In addition to customer related issues, a number of salespeople talked about the challenge of dealing with their manager. It was not that the managers were being hard nosed or difficult. Many of the salespeople said that their managers were realistic and supportive. The issue was “needy managers”.  

We spoke to many employees in other functions as well to understand if the “needy manager” was a sales function phenomenon. Turns out, its not. It’s a classic case of an extroverted manager who now has to manage in a remote work environment.

These managers mean well. They are supportive and helpful. But because they get their energy from people around them, they want to constantly connect with and talk to people. In a remote work scenario, their team is their “go-to” fix for human interaction. Lots of meetings. Lots of 1:1s. All smoke breaks or water cooler conversations are now done remotely. A potential 10 min catch up ends up being 30 min social conversation. The end result is an exhausted team, most of who just want to focus on getting things done. And, they are now starting to feel that they are in “always on” mode.

We believe that the issue will persist for as long as the team is reluctant to raise this with the manager.

Perhaps. this is a wonderful opportunity for managers and teams to re-design their work rhythm. Managers could re-look at how they are impacting their team. They should encourage the team to create and own new team norms. Teams can use this as an opportunity to help their manager lead the team in a way that works for all.

This doesn’t have to be about the “needy manager” at all! We can quickly make this a movement that creates high performance teams that build strong operating rhythms and communication.

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