Blog: Be a manager, not a bully!

Life @ Work

Be a manager, not a bully!

Boss-subordinate conflicts are not uncommon as working styles and thought processes vary from individual to individual.
Be a manager, not a bully!

People are complex. Every one acts differently, has different thought processes, emotions and perspectives. At workplace, this is all the more evident. And managing people has never been easy. Had it been so, vast domains like psychology, human and organizational behaviour would be of little interest or mundane.

In the corporate set up, and especially in reporting relationships, people management has become tougher today. Boss-subordinate hassles or conflicts are not uncommon as working styles and thought processes vary from individual to individual, along with various social, psychological or other pressures that are at play.

Today, managers are not just managers, but they are equally involved with the growth and learning of their teams along with being responsible to the business goals. In such a scenario, what are some of the key practices that help eliminate the pessimism that reporting relationships are often assumed to possess?

What can managers do in order to foster a healthy and comfortable atmosphere in organizations?

Realize the responsibility

"With great authority comes great responsibility''— is a powerful quote and holds true at many levels and under many circumstances – including managerial roles. The reins of the team members’ careers are in the hands of a manager. While the manager exercises authority over the performance and behaviour of the subordinates, the responsibility of making the person grow and learn also lies with him as well. A manager cannot just bask in the glory of the authority he has over his team; he needs to be accountable for their growth, performance, career as well. Non-performance by a subordinate is also a reflection of the manager’s calibre and capability.

Team comes first

It is all about priorities. There are some managers who only work to further their own careers and reputation and pay no attention to their team members. Then there are those who, work along with their team, collaborate and work for their combined growth — at times giving more importance to the latter. Success of the team adds credibility to a manager’s position and he should, therefore, open doors for his team rather than keeping the key to opportunities just with himself.

Become a solution provider

There are certain basic expectations that subordinates have from their bosses. One such expectation is that he or she will listen to a problem and then provide a real and actionable solution to it. In most cases, problems are noticed and understood by all but solutions are only be devised only by a few. By virtue of their experience, position and assumed knowledge, a manager is expected to think of alternatives and work around to solve problems and not just talk about the impending problems. It sure is a skill that defines a good manager.


Communication is the backbone of everything that happens at workplace. Half the battle is won if two-way communication happens and hence creating a wall between self and team members never helps. Team members must be encouraged to bring out their thoughts—right or wrong, good or bad, fruitful or irrelevant—brilliant or just another amateurish idea is something that can be decided later but creation of an open atmosphere is what matters.

Information dissemination at the right time and to the right recipients is crucial and this is something that a good manager should know. It also ensures that team is engaged, equipped and capable of thinking well ahead of what impacts their organization, what changes are lined up and how their roles will shape up in future. Keeping information to oneself is of no use.

Praise in public, reprimand in private

This is a golden rule that a boss must know of and should adhere to. Appreciating a good job in front of the others is a good way of motivating everyone — the person is the question and the audience as well. There have been managers who have not hesitated from sending appreciation emails for their subordinates to highest levels of management in order to create a positive image and to make the achievement of his subordinate public knowledge.

Vice versa, no one likes being reprimanded in front of colleagues, peers or seniors, even if the person has been at fault. While discussing faults and misses, smaller the audience, the better. This is what one-on-one discussions are meant for. This does not mean that a negative feedback should not be given. It must be given as guiding team members is a crucial role of a good manager—but how and where is this to be given is something that this golden rule describes.

The key to fulfilling the responsibility is to remember that ‘a manager is made manager for a reason’. That said, onus of proving that decision right lies on the manager himself.


Disclaimer: This is a contributed post. The statements, opinions and data contained are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of People Matters and the editor(s).




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Topics: Life @ Work, Watercooler

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