In sports parlance, a player’s manager is often sought by owners of high-profile, celebrity-laden teams. A player’s manager is described as the guy who can make sure everyone gets along in the clubhouse and can soothe the massive egos of the various stars on the team. It’s not so much about managing (educating, mentoring, motivating and accountability) as it is about being the ultimate concierge.
In business, there are plenty of ‘player’s manager’s’, and this is typically manifested in the long run by superior teams producing inferior results. Let me explain.
Most of the attention to ‘bad management’ is focused on those managers who micromanage. Everyone has had that boss who was so involved with every detail, that you wanted to say, “why don’t you just do my work for me and be done with it.” But there is the direct opposite – let’s call it macromanagement – that has significant downsides. Lack of on-time deliverables, internal team conflict, and a general laissez faire attitude in general. Let’s break that down.
Many ‘player’s managers’ are tremendously qualified. They know their business, are good people who get on well within the company, and have a keen sense of direction when it comes to advancing the company’s goals. But one of the unfortunate qualities of the player’s manager is that they aren’t generally great at conflict management. They believe that they have assembled a great team of super-stars and it is inevitable that large egos will produce the occasional dust up. So they let each member of the team self-manage, if you will. But avoiding conflict is incredibly detrimental to a team approach. Conflict breeds stress, and stress kills momentum.
Another manifestation of the player’s manager syndrome (we may as well coin a new psychological disorder while we’re at it!), is that not being hands-on enough with the team as a whole or individuals and individual performance, a general malaise and laissez faire attitude begins to creep into the team. There isn’t enough mission-critical thinking and as a result, deliverables begin to fall behind and schedules aren’t adhered to with the rigidity that produces effective results. This is probably the #1 detriment to the player’s manager – under managing to the point of losing the ability to light a fire under the team’s posteriors.
The list of problems inherent to under management continue to grow. Self accountability begins to fade and a perceived lack of purpose worms its way into the department. At the end of the day, macromanaging is just as harmful as micromanaging.