I have recently moved into a new team (both new to me, and new to the organization). My new manager's style is freeform, creative and fast-paced. While I like all those things, we work in an extremely structured large organization that demands a level of discipline a few notches above what he's providing. This causes constant friction with process-driven teams that we need to work with, and chaos within our own team as we generally don't know what we're doing from one day to the next.
I could rant a lot here, but to cut a long story short my diagnosis is that we as a team need structure, from basic hygiene factors like having regular one-to-ones, through to critically important things like defined roles and responsibilities, and a clear statement of vision and objectives.
My attempts so far have elicited something between blank stares and defensiveness. I'm struggling because I'm used to this kind of structure being applied top-down, and I can't figure out how to "manage up".
Forces at work include:
- My manager gets very little support from his manager
- My manager has been challenged to demonstrate the value our team is adding (personal existential risk => stress => destructive behaviours)
- We are focused on a project which also has little structure, few clear requirements and no well-defined roles and responsibilities.
Things I have tried:
- Booking one-to-one's into his diary
- They get postponed or minimised and when we do talk, it's about work issues
- Defining and writing down terms of reference
- They change each time I ask
- Talking to co-workers
- They feel the same way, openly admit to not knowing what they're doing, but are contractors and are fearful of speaking up.
- Setting out tasks and outcomes that I think are important and will allow us to work with our supplier teams (rather than antagonise them).
- He disagrees, and instead gives me point-tasks (mostly around producing PowerPoint packs, doubling-down on the next big meeting that he believes will solve everything).
Edit: I researched the question-asking guidelines on this site as I was worried it would come across as a rant, but I do think the question in the title is valid and everything complainy in the question is just context.
Edit 2, 5 years later: Since I didn't accept any of the answers, I thought I'd provide an update to anyone interested. The behaviours I described turned out to be symptoms of a mental health issue that led my boss to departing the organization in unfortunate and acrimonious fashion, shortly after I moved myself out of his sphere of influence by applying for a different internal role. I don't believe there was any correct answer.