Danny Amendola just moved from a consistently
winning team to an occasional also-ran, and he couldn’t be happier.
Amendola was a star performer on a New
England Patriots football team that won the league championship two years ago
and made it to the Super Bowl again last year. Now he has just gone to the
Miami Dolphins, winless in their three trips to the playoffs in the past decade.
Amendola is a poster boy for the saying, “People don’t leave
organizations – they leave managers.”
week, the Associated Press quoted him gushing about his new coach, Adam Gase:
“It’s almost like Coach Gase is one of the
guys, one of the boys and you wanna fight hard for your boys. Back in New
England it’s almost like you got a principal and a principal’s office . . . you
know, in a good way and in a bad way, too.”
What’s the single most difficult thing about the
project manager’s job?
I know, I know: There are so many
problems, especially the unpredictable ones, that it seems a worthless exercise
to try isolating the single worst. Those devilish items take turns being the
worst, often with head-spinning rapidity.
The specifics can include, but most
definitely are not limited to:
. . .
often unexpressed and/or unknown to those who have them
Abrupt changes in
Lack of assured project
Team members who won’t
. . . or
won’t keep the commitments they’ve made
Managers who block or
limit team members’ participation
The guy had
rehearsed his sales presentation thoroughly and was well into it when his
prospect perked up and interrupted with a question.
“Be patient,” the
salesman said. “I’m only on my third point – I’ve got nine more to go.”
Can you think of
a better way to kill off a sale?
different example comes out of the Cold War between the United States and the
former Soviet Union.
It was in 1983, when
the two bitter adversaries had enormous nuclear armaments trained on each
other.A software glitch mistakenly sent
an alert to the Soviet duty officer, falsely warning that the U.S. had launched
five missiles. There had been no such launch.
officer decided any real attack would be a lot more serious, so he withheld any
counterattack. Had he acted, there could have been nuclear war.
managers can relate to the student sales example; not so the missile one. But
one factor in both illustrates a major point for us: the judgment of the
That was the corporate
president, responding to the manager of a division of the company.
The manager, one month into
his first job at this level, had just described how he had directed the
department heads to prepare for him “blue sky” budget proposals. The idea was
to include in early budget planning a look to the future – what the department
manager envisioned as investments for growth over the succeeding few years.
The president was not
persuaded by the idea. The new division manager lost the job a few months
later, returned to his previous position as a supervisor and soon left the
A successor, more in the
authoritative mold of the president, lasted a year before being flat-out fired.
His peremptory style had resulted in unionization of every unit in the
Promotion to management can be tough – on
everybody, but particularly on the person honored by the elevation.
Exceptions are when the new manager had
had actual management training before moving up, or has benefited from the gift
of competent mentorship. If the mentoring continues after the promotion, the
value is multiplied.
The great majority of entrants into
management aren’t so lucky. They arrive unprepared in this strange new place,
and some of them never really recover. Look around you. How many of the
managers you encounter actually perform the work well?
In case your ability to evaluate managers
has been dulled by years of exposure to the general run of the practice, let’s
step back and freshen our perspective.
To clarify: in most situations, the
manager is NOT supposed to be the most accomplished worker bee in the place.
Your widget-making days are over now.
The responsibilities of managers vary
limitlessly, so we’ll start with the universal basics: What is a manager
supposed to do?