team building organization development leadership coaching expert michael cardus

One large and unspoken issue within organizations is the Manager / Employee relationship. We have all had a manager that was a challenge, and as managers, we have had an employee that was a challenge I’ve been both at different times in my career.

We often think it is just a matter of personality and the team did not fit well together. But that is usually wrong – of course, the person who is the manager is important, and we must be careful to screen out (-T) extreme negative temperament.

Behaviors can become extreme as a sign of an inept manager-employee situation. As a manager, you must have the capacity to complete the required responsibilities if your capacity is lacking then effective management cannot take place.

There is one condition that I consider to be more important than the rest, and it is the foundation of People join companies and leave managers.

Optimum Manager-Subordinate Distance

By optimum manager-subordinate distance, I mean the difference in capacity between a manager and a subordinate that would make it possible for the manager to effectively manage.

Too Close in Capacity
  • Many have experienced this. The manager and subordinate are just too close in capacity to complete the work and they both know it.
Too Far Removed In Capacity
  • Some have experienced this, the manager and subordinate are too separate in capacity and they just don’t “get” each other.
Too Close in Capacity Too Far in Capacity
· Employee feels their capacity is too close; equal to; or above that of the manager.

· Manager feels employee is too close; or equal to their capacity as a manager.

· Manager feels anxious because he cannot effectively assess the work being done.

· Employee knows nearly as much about the work as the manager does.

· Insufficient scope/context of work being delegated.

· Employee feels manager does not know any more about the work than he does.

· When trouble occurs manager is unable to offer value and ideas that are useful.

· Manager micro-manages

· Employee becomes frustrated because he feels restrained by management.

· Employee will often go to managers-manager for advice and input.

· Manager feels anxious because employee is just as much, or more capable of the manager’s work.

· Employee feels constrained and unable to do their best work.

· Employee seems ineffective.

· Employee involves manager in too many details of the work.

· Manager feels she needs to descend, go into too many details of the work that should be completed by the employee.

· Manager is unable to delegate full-scale responsibilities.

· Manager is too occupied with employees work and becomes overburdened with tasks that should be delegated but could not, and now she has to complete them herself.

· Employee feels manager is too far removed.

· Employee feels anxious and uncomfortable about the work delegated by manager.

· Employee feels like they are taking too great a risk and begin to try to restrain their manager.

· Employee does not feel as helpful as they would like to be.

· Employee is anxious about going to manager for assistance because they feel she will become impatient with their lack of understanding.

· Manager feels constrained and pulled down by employee.

· Employee feels anxious because manager is too distant from them.

The list above leads to; what would the manager-employee relationship look like at the just right level of capacity? AND how do we ensure that managers and employees are not too close or too far in capacity?

Some Ideas: