Eliot's Ramblings

Debugging the Boss: The Best Friend

The Best Friend manager wants to be friends with their team members more than they want to manage them. Their team members enjoy work and usually get along, but have a tendency to miss deadlines, do not drive the product forward, and over time, lose pride in their work as they accomplish less. A good manager has a team that respects them, and can also make tough decisions that may not make everyone on their team happy.

This is is not to say that establishing a rapport, even a personal relationship with your reports is a bad thing. However, befriending and managing are different things.

Behavior in meetings: Doesn’t demand accountability for slippage. Allows meetings to degenerate into hangout sessions.

Impact on team: Personal responsibility goes down without accountability. Team members can be afforded too much leeway on commitments and job performance. They may like their day-to-day, but their career stagnates because their manager isn’t pushing them to grow. When a shakeup comes, they are poorly positioned. And if team members disagree on important issues, this manager, instead of providing leadership, can be paralyzed by the need to make everyone happy… but we know trying to please everyone all the time means pleasing no-one.

Impact on product: Quality and date slips. Nothing gets done. Too much foosball.

Trait gone wrong: This person cares deeply for everyone on their team, wants them to like them and each other. That’s not a bad thing! But when this desire overrides their responsibility to push their team to be the best they can be, it becomes a management bug.

Debugging: Connect the concept of their team’s suffering gradual loss of pride and career stagnation to the lack of discipline. Discuss the difference between respect and friendship, and the difference between their team members liking them and their team members liking everything they do. By prioritizing friendship over job performance, they’re not actually doing their team favors. Encourage them to have confidence that if they provide leadership, their team will respect them, and respect is always a good basis for friendship.

Not to be confused with: The True Democrat.