36 – What did you like and dislike about your previous managers?

Posted by Whistler                                                                                          430 words

A colleague told me recently that they had been asked, along with the other managers in their branch, to write a list of the things they had liked and disliked about their previous group managers. The intention was for the new group manager to understand how managers would prefer to work with him. The method of finding out was just a little unorthodox.

The list of likes and dislikes had to be submitted typed on plain paper in an unmarked envelope. Each manager’s anonymous list would then be re-typed onto a longer list to be tabled and discussed at a branch meeting. This whole approach made me think about my previous branch managers, so I made my own list. It was a cathartic exercise. I can recommend it. It is also a way to crystallise your own thinking about what works for you in your relationship with your manager.

Here are my lists.

LikeSincere and genuine in their relationships with subordinates and colleagues

Understand the role of operations in delivering value to community

Able to make decisions

Accept accountability for their decisions and actions

Acknowledge when there has been a team effort and don’t take credit for the work of others



‘Cherry picking’ issues and only engaging with those that suit their career agenda

Lack of operational knowledge and experience

Regularly cancelling, reducing or shifting one to one meetings

Insufficient time at meetings to discuss  matters that are important to managers

Lack of genuine and meaningful consultation with managers

Lack of trust in the judgement of managers

Inability to balance time and energy between urgent and important activities

The lists may reflect the fact that I have just had some exceptionally poor experiences. Or, it could reflect the current crop of executives finding their way into local government. Not all of them, but many of them. The days of commitment to a community and its needs above your own career goals seem largely gone. Even commitment to professional values is often missing.

As the Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating once said, ‘In a two horse race, always back self interest because at least you know it is trying’. In this case self interest is winning, but not for the community paying for the race.