What is the Infallible Manager? This is the person in charge of a section or department that dictates everything. They don’t listen to ideas; they never ask for opinions and only listen to opinions that affirm what they are saying. It’s called confirmation bias, but it’s annoying and frustrating. Who wants a manager that holds a meeting and asks for ideas or says they want to find a solution to a problem but have already decided how they want to handle it? Then either manipulates the group by leading them to their plan or simply telling them their plan up front and argues about different ideas until they end up deciding on their original design.
This is a problem everywhere, but an even bigger problem in the military. Young, inexperienced people are put in positions of authority every day. In the beginning, they are very open to suggestions, but it doesn’t last long, and soon they are doing the same things other bad managers are doing. From the subordinate to the “Infallible Manager,” here are a few ways to help with this.
Manager: Goals need to be clear. The basis of all work and communication will stem from communicating the goals and making sure everyone is on board with the goals. If some disagree with goals, ensure that you have more meetings with them, so they know the goals. The goals should be in line with the larger organizations goals.
Subordinate: Goals need to be understood. If you don’t know what the goals are it’s hard to work together as a team. Demand clear and achievable goals from your manager. Don’t let them off the hook if they don’t seem interested in establishing or working together to establish goals.
Manager: Unauthorized methods should be communicated. Once goals are finished, communicating the ways, you will not authorize. I’ve had too many instances where goals were clear, but the methods my team wanted to take was “nothing.” They felt they were already doing what they should be to achieve the goals. I know say, “Inaction is not an acceptable method to goal achievement.”
Subordinate: Risky methods should be discussed before experimenting. Reasonable attempts to reach the target are probably fine to implement and test. If you are thinking of going way off the road to come up with a unique solution, communicate this with the manager, they may not be up for it, but the risk falls to the manager, not the subordinate.
Manager: Listen to your people! When you pose a problem and need solutions, listen! This seems very obvious, but it is rarely practiced. It is human nature to try to solve the problem, but why do you have supervisors and subordinate managers if you are just going to tell them the solution?
Subordinate: Speak up! If you have an idea, you have a responsibility to speak it. If your manager is not open to suggestions, keep trying different approaches until you find something that works. Something I learned by reading How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie was to get them saying yes and put them in a positive frame of mind. Talk about a recent success; repeat the goals to get the momentum in your favor. Keep trying these different things until you find out what your manager responds to. Just remember, not every idea you have is going to be great.