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Ever since we have had businesses with a management and a workforce, we have enjoyed and endured a unique dynamic of varied perception of situations, opportunities and threats. Management and workforce invariably have a different view of the world. The former should view their business and marketplace from a longer term, strategic perspective and the latter, from a more operational and tactical position. Often though there is a blurring of roles and responsibilities, that if miscommunicated, may result in frustration and misunderstanding.

For this reason I thought it might be useful and interesting to observe a number of managers to objectively help the workforce understand the other’s perspective, thinking and drivers. Perhaps to then allow the workforce to more fully appreciate the pressures and subtleties of the management role that often goes unsaid. Responses from management that gained most reaction and interest from interactions with workforce included:

From management perspective the profitability, revenue and pipeline of sales opportunities is one of the most important daily concerns. A workforce that provides regular updates on these three elements will ensure confidence and greater ease in the minds of management. With value comes solutions. Management invariably wants to be presented with potential solutions to issues rather than simply problems. Workforce value comes from taking accountability, allowing management to lead rather than micro-manage.

Often some steps removed from the marketplace, the management is constantly seeking evidence-based market and competitor intelligence that can help them to remain market savvy. Businesses that fail to share competitor activities risk becoming ego-holics, focusing on their own agenda and potentially sinking into a black hole of management by self-preference rather than market need.

Whilst they should be in a strategic position there is often a tendency for management to dip into innovation feed and start testing new opportunities at a tactical level. They can often be driven by aesthetic and especially if some managers early careers were at the ‘shop floor’ level. A little information can be dangerous so keep management updated on new product development timelines, profitability-driven and innovation from market research and competitive analysis. Any ‘we should do this’ ideas from management can then be assessed objectively and fed back as evidenced, lower priority.

Intention is everything and vulnerability can be shared or matched if management become emotional and subjective. Most management will have a deep desire for collaborative team working rather than ineffective silo working and so positive and shared, multi-discipline reporting and communication show managers that the business is communicating without their intervention, affirming their planning and resource allocation.

Trigger Words
A business often has a selection of trigger words that because of previous debates and scenarios, can trigger negative emotion and intent when used even by mistake. If crossing international boundaries and languages, great care must be taken to use terms and words that cannot be misconstrued and misunderstood. For example the word ‘concern’ may be positive, thoughtful and stimulating of a good discussion in one language, but translated to another it could warn of negatives, lack of supportiveness, and disagreement.

Take time out to find exactly how your management feels. Remember they are in a very different place and could be performing under very different pressures to yours. Manage upwards as well as expecting them to manage you. Establish shared goals, communicate clearly, report regularly, use their language and remember to say no, with evidence, when you need to.

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