First-class coach

My boss orders us around but has no technical expertise...

by Miranda Kennett

Q: I'm having real problems with my boss. He was appointed six months ago and comes from outside our sector. He has no technical knowledge of what my team and I are doing, but that doesn't stop him ordering us about. I hate being told what to do by someone as lacking in experience and understanding as he is. How can I change his behaviour?

A: In the complex organisations of today, it has become the norm for senior managers to be responsible for specialist and technical functions of which they have no first-hand knowledge. It's a particular challenge for managers with this role to be able to set goals, inspire achievement or even monitor the progress of these specialists. Without the relevant knowledge, how can the manager establish priorities, judge performance or make the right decisions on resources?

Your boss has this problem in spades. He's undoubtedly stressed by this position, and the tactic he is using to disguise his insecurity is to issue directives. He is adopting a management style that is comfortable for him: his one-way communication doesn't invite contrary opinions and avoids challenges. But his command-and- control style is the antithesis of what a competent manager would do in his situation.

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