Question: I was recently promoted to a middle management role at a MedTech company. I work closely with another executive manager, but I am having problems. He’s all ears to new ideas for our company but any time I make suggestions, he immediately shoots them down. What’s even more frustrating is that he often suggests the same or similar ideas weeks later and thinks they’re fantastic. I’m really losing my patience with this. Should I bring this up in a private meeting or let it go?
Answer: Your question is not an easy one to answer as there are quite a few factors that are unclear. It is important to note that on any successfully leadership team, some of the key skills are communication and trust. It appears in your case – and specifically with reference to your colleague – that neither is present.
As I mentioned, there are some factors that are unclear, so I will need to make some assumptions.
Firstly, was it a complete business plan that you presented to your peer or was it just in passing suggestion over a coffee or general chat?
It is also unclear as to whether he is aware he is doing this, and thus taking advantage of you, in order to seek promotion in the organisation.
I am going to assume that the person in question is a peer and has more experience in middle management team. I am also going to assume that the suggestions were made in passing and not as a presented business plan.
Based on my assumptions, bringing this up with him may not bring any positive returns as technically he has done nothing wrong. And if he is unaware of his actions this may cause some animosity between you, resulting in friction within the team. You may come off worse as you may be the newest member of the management team.
To make sure this does not continue, take steps yourself to prevent this and ensure your voice, and ideas, are being heard by the right people in the organisation. In doing so, you will need to ensure other members of the team feel you are a team player and continue being communicative and honest.
Presenting ideas to senior management What are the tools to communicate? Is there a structure in place in your organisation to facilitate new ideas and, if so, are you using these correctly?
At management meetings, are you being effective in having your voice and suggestions heard? As a new member of the management team, this can be difficult to get a handle on however the following may help.
- Ensure suggestions make business sense:The key, especially when dealing with senior management, is that you ensure that your ideas are presented in a manner that make sense. You may not get a lot of air time at meetings; the key is to make the most of these opportunities.
- Keep records:Record any ideas that you have and want to present. A good way of ensuring your communication is retained is by completing follow-up emails, this can be a quick summary of the suggestions made to other members and also senior management.
- Follow up:An idea is just an idea until it is actioned either to progress or to close out.
- Keep your integrity:As noted, communication and trust are key skills and elements for any leadership team.
You need to ensure you continue to communicate but do it in an effective manner with the rest of the management team
Finally, have you considered a mentor? A peer is not always the best person to bounce new ideas off.
You need to consider the benefits of having someone that you can get unprejudiced feedback from – not only on possible career planning but also on ideas.
Ideally this will not be a direct line manager or even someone in your organisation, but the person would have to be someone you are willing to take guidance from.
Honest feedback and ability to take guidance is key to ensure that you get the most from the engagement.
MidWest Regional Manager
Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group