A fellow manager is creating unnecessary rework for my team. The root cause is a lack of leadership skills. How can I effectively communicate to our leaders that they need to address the cause of the problem, not the symptoms?
Manager X leads a team of 10 employees. We are colleagues and I manage a team of about the same size. There are projects in which employees who report to me work on projects 'owned' by Manager X, and vice-versa. We both report to Senior Manager Y.
Since Manager X was promoted into the role 12 months ago he will tell anyone that will listen how busy he is. While we are a bit busier than usual in the past three months, that effect is across the company and not specific to Manager X's team. Manager X's predecessor did not express the same concerns about excessive workloads, however there has been staff turnover in his team since then.
There are two problems: one for my team, one for me
Manager X's performance is effecting my ability to meet deadlines. Outputs from Manager X's team are requiring rework by my team to get it up to an acceptable standard. Mistakes are often avoidable due to poor/no quality control or junior staff not been provided with appropriate guidance. The rework is placing a substantial additional workload on my team who, while remaining good natured about it, have indicated that the burden is unsustainable over the longer term.
I was made aware that Manager X has requested additional staff be allocated to his team. This includes a request for half of my team be reallocated to assist with his workload. A reallocation is the only option due to a company-wide hiring freeze. I don't believe this is a strategic play, but rather a genuine belief by Manager X that his workload is excessive and that his projects are far more important to the company than my own projects.
In a situation where my and Manager X's projects were competing for resources I'm not sure how the company would prioritise. However:
- I don't believe that a reallocation of employees will solve the underlying problem and is not an efficient use of company resources.
- My own position is at risk if I were to lose half my team.
The root cause is that Manager X is very inefficient at how he works.
While I agree that Manager X is very busy, it's primarily due to his own inefficient management style. Examples of the types of behaviours I'm observing are:
- stating openly that a two-page memorandum took 23 iterations to get 'just right'. The memorandum is a bi-monthly project update to Senior Manager Y and is part of our standard reporting process. I generally have between six and eight to complete and each takes 10 minutes to update to an acceptable standard.
- allowing a junior team member to have no work allocated for an entire week on the basis that he (Manager X) was too busy to decide what should be allocated. The junior had asked me privately whether this was normal and indicated that it had occurred on several occasions in the past.
- organising for several of his senior team members to attend a three day off-site training course in the week that a major deliverable was due. After Manager X realised that the deliverable would not be completed on time, he requested via Senior Manager Y that my team assist with the task.
Senior Manager Y has a wide range of responsibilities and is probably unaware of the day-to-day management style of Manager X.
What I've tried so far
- Raised individual instances of poor quality input from his team with Manager X. He responds that his team are extremely busy and brushes off concerns on the basis that each incident was an isolated event with unique causes.
- I've offered to take responsibility for more deliverables on shared projects. In response, Manager X reproached me in a strongly-worded email to Senior Manager Y by saying I had demanded that he relinquish control over the project and that I was attempting to "muscle in on his turf".
- I've been communicating to Senior Manager Y that the risks to my own projects are associated with the quality of inputs from Manager X's team, and the impact it is having on my team. However, I'm acutely aware that this is turning into a fortnightly "how is Manager X failing now" discussion. Despite having raised the concerns several months ago and reiterating them, I haven't seen anything to suggest that Senior Manager Y is addressing the root cause of the problem, namely Manager X's leadership skills.
I don't believe the situation will improve until Manger X improves his leadership style.
How can I effectively communicate to Senior Manager Y that he needs to address how Manager X is leading his team without being seen to be running a weekly critique of the decisions that Manager X is making?