When your manager gives specific instructions on how to complete a certain task, what do you do? You do as told. However, have you ever stopped to consider that your manager may be wrong? I get a feeling that most people are conditioned to do as told by their manager, and it’s best not to question management. I too was guilty of this, and if it wasn’t for a certain situation that unfolded in the past, I don’t think I would speak my mind with such openness to management as I do today.
My manager at the time called an emergency meeting. Unsure of what was going to unfold, he announced he was leaving for a position elsewhere. It took the team by surprise, but he said it was an offer that he couldn’t refuse. Fair enough. Next, he told us that he would be transitioning most of his responsibilities to the team over the next couple of weeks. While it would be more work for the team, it also meant we had an opportunity to learn something new. I was up for a new challenge.
My manager gave me one of his job responsibilities. He said it was up to me on whether or not I would like to own it or transition it back to his eventual replacement. During the first week of the transition, I was performing the task as instructed by my manager. On the second week of the transition, something deep down in my gut told me something was wrong with the process. The sequence of steps didn’t make sense, no matter how hard I tried to justify it was the correct process. Who was I to challenge the manager? It was a process that was being used and followed for the last two years.
On the third week, I was sure that the process was ass backward (my manager had left by that time), and there was a critical flaw within it. To me, it was simply wrong. For some reason, nobody challenged the process and accepted it as is. Since my manager had already left, I brought my concerns to the head of the department (a C-Level Executive). He was in agreement with me regarding the flaws. He gave me an opportunity to update the process, and I ended up as the permanent owner of it. The updated process has improved transparency, team collaboration, reporting, and reduced implementation errors. Because of this project, the executive later pulled me into another project to help other managers with creating a process workflow for another item.
Even if you think your manager has all the answers, remember, not all of the answers may be correct. If something doesn’t feel right, find the reason behind it. Don’t just explain your findings to management, but provide a reason why something needs to be fixed and provide a solution as well. Should your manager become hostile or be offended by your findings and suggestions, then it’s clear that person does not value your input. You’ll have to decide whether or not this is the right environment you want to work in. While managers may be responsible for managing people and their workload, they don’t manage how others think.