The Power Tripper:
The Employee Approach: Some employees may feel that they have something to offer the Power Tripper, and may try to “ride the wave” of power with him/her. If they calculate correctly, they may indeed move up with him/her, at least until he/she determines such employees are no longer needed. If they calculate incorrectly, they may do their own careers irreparable harm that may be difficult or impossible to recover from. Employees need to think through such an approach thoroughly (although they generally don’t). Some other employees don’t recognize a Power Tripper, and may end up used and abused. They should consider this a valuable life lesson (see Learn from Good Role Models; Learn More from Bad!). Yet other employees will recognize a Power Tripper and decide that they don’t want to play his/her games. They will typically try to steer clear of his/her wake and avoid, as best they can, getting drawn into his/her drama (see Too Much Drama!). Other employees may consciously decide to become an “opponent”. As long as they recognize the “fight to the death” that they’re getting into, this may be a viable approach. Another option may be to try to move to another, less stressful and less politically motivated manager.
The Turf Builder:
The Employee Approach: Employees reporting into a benign Turf Builder likely believe that their life is good, and that may well be the case. As long as they are able to carry out productive and effective work, with little interference, then there’s little to be gained in the short-term from making waves. Employees who get pulled into turf battles, however, are beset with a host of dilemmas. They have to carry out their work as productively and effectively as possible, but they are likely being pulled into some of the Turf Builder’s battles where they are expected to carry out his/her commands. At times these commands may be contrary to what’s best for the company, and the employee is faced with difficult ethical decisions. Some may take the easy way out, and simply carry out the Turf Builder’s commands regardless of the consequences to the company. If he/she wins this battle, these employees may be rewarded, but if he/she loses this battle, these employees may well suffer along with the Turf Builder. Others may elect to put the needs of the company first, but then will likely face the wrath of their Turf Builder manager, now and into the future, or may be recognized and rewarded for favoring the company’s interests above those of any individual. It is the individual employee’s choice to make, although one who favors private interests over corporate interests will not likely have a long future in the company.
These are just two more of many Mis-Manager personality types that you will come across in knowledge worker-based (and other) organizations. I’ll get into more in subsequent Mis-Manager blog posts. The negative impact of Mis-Managers on companies cannot be overstated. The key is to recognize the various personality types and to approach them in the most effective way to help both groups and their Mis-Managers. Employees must recognize that Mis-Managers hold positions of direct authority over them, and so must approach them carefully. They must walk a fine line and find what works best for them. Their work environment, and future, may depend upon it.
[Note: Please let me know if there are Mis-Manager personality types you’d like spotlighted. I’ll do my best to accommodate you.]