Killing Them Softly

September 06, 2008 2 min read

Is your organization slowly draining the life out of your managers? Executives and managers perceive how their organizations are serving their people quite differently, and understanding those differences is the key to unlocking hidden potential. For managers to be more productive, they need to feel a sense of commitment and sincerity from those above them, with work that challenges them to bring out their best. One thing everyone can agree on is that change is standard operating procedure, which everyone accepts as part of the deal.

A Matter of Trust

There seems to be a general lack of trust between executive and managers, explaining some of the popularity of Dilbert cartoons. Managers are much more likely to perceive a lack of concern or trust from the upper ranks. They also sense words coming “from on high” are hollow. In short, there’s no sense of meaning, purpose or mission coming from the top, which is the only place it can really originate. Managers say they’re ready to take on more challenges – but is anyone trying to challenge them?

Ignorance is Bliss

Executives seem more engaged in their jobs than managers. Their work lets them use their skills more, and they feel more comfortable around their superiors. But this contentment doesn’t extend to the managerial ranks. It’s no wonder that many of the same managers who reported less satisfaction with their organization were more likely to waste their attention during the week or look actively for a way out. Executives who ignore these sentiments face higher turnover, more loss of institutional knowledge and less organizational stability.


Change is accepted as a reality of business today. There is a willingness to face the future, and executives who don’t encourage new thinking are underestimating their people’s ability to handle it.


If leaders gave a little more sincerity and a reinvigorated sense of purpose through the organization, companies could see a real pickup in performance. Change is accepted as a reality; the only question is who will have the courage to lead it.

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