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Management Tip (2): Support Your Team

Support your team, don’t tell tales, don’t name names. You take the money, you take the blame.

My old boss always made it very clear that, as an Executive Manager, I was accountable for everything that was sent out of my Division.

When one of my team sent a letter to an industry stakeholder giving some advice that turned out to be wrong, the recipient of the letter complained to my boss. My boss called me in to his office for my explanation, which I gave him. He was pretty vexed and asked me the name of the person who had given the bad advice. I didn’t tell him but reminded him that he had told me I was accountable for everything sent out of my Division. He accepted that - I think he was pleased that I was actually prepared to take the blame and that I was discrete enough to protect my staff like that.

Of course, I went back to my office and called in the individual who had provided the wrong advice and we had a little chat about the matter. I think he was pleased that I was actually prepared to take the blame and that I was discrete enough to protect him like that.

On a related theme, when talking about the work of the team, I think it is always better and more inclusive to use the pronoun, “We” and not “I”. Equally I tried not to refer to the team as, “they”.

Give credit where it is due. If work has been well received I always mention the name of the person responsible. I also always tried to remember to let the person know their work was well received. It seems just common politeness. At my irregular (4-6 weekly) team meetings I would read out any letters and emails I had received praising a staff member.

Part of supporting the team has got to be giving them the resources to do their work. Whether the work is their business as usual or ad hoc tasks which I have delegated to them, they must have the wherewithal to do the work. I expand on this topic further in my short article on delegation.

Another part of supporting my team is empowering them – see my short article on empowering others.

I always try to get the work off my desk as fast as I can. Maybe it’s because of my experience in my early years as an air traffic controller. The traffic comes into my airspace, I have to deal with it and hand it all on without delay. If any one member of the team had been slow to pass on their traffic, the place would have become a nightmare and the system would have collapsed. Therefore, the quicker I can move tasks on to the next person, the quicker they can get on with their job.

This article is just my view of the topic at title. Like a lot of people, I’ve done some training in management techniques but there is no substitute for experience. In my case, a bit of trial and error, learning from my mistakes, watching other managers and a little common sense. I hope you found it of interest and assistance.

Peter Cromarty

Peter Cromarty is a former air traffic controller and pilot. He spent 27 years as a safety regulator of ATM/CNS, airspace and aerodromes.

View his Linked In profile.

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