A long time ago, during a very brief period in my corporate career, I had a hologram boss. The first thing she did when she took up her new position was to move her office (“office”, what an anachronism) out of the department, away from her team, and set up on the other side of the floor, next to the office of a “powerful” profile. In the mornings, we would see her walk past the department on her way to her desk. She neither looked at us nor greeted us. Minutes later, after having left her bag, she would walk past the department again (without looking at us or greeting us) and take the lift, straight to the executive floor, where she, day after day, worked on her personal agenda. I have been lucky and I have only had one manager like this in my professional life, but unfortunately I am seeing that it is a somewhat common profile in certain types of organisation. The question is: what do hologram managers really bring to the organisation?
Nobody has a gun to their head to accept a managerial position (in principle) and it is obvious to everyone that being a “manager” means having a team. It is the team, and nothing else, that makes it possible for someone to use the nomenclature “manager” (or any of its synonyms). That is precisely why I find it hard to understand why there are managers who give their backs to their team (or who don’t even like teams). A hologram manager represents a serious problem for organisations because, neglecting their people and obsessed with their individualism, they fail to fulfil the primary purpose of their role: to work intensely with their team so that each and every one of its members contributes powerfully to making the organisation thrive.
All too often I come across managers who are totally unaware of their people and have zero interest in them. They talk to their teams in a forced way once a year, in those old-style annual appraisals that no one believes, where they don’t know exactly what to say or how to score their people (“annual appraisals” and “scoring”, another pair of anachronisms). Too often I meet managers who assume a position, surround themselves with two or three trusted profiles and ignore the rest of the team outright, as if they were a commodity, creating totally transactional departments with contributions far below what they could be. Too often I meet managers who, instead of understanding that theirs is a role of service and guidance for their team (their real internal customer), insist on spending their hours on the executive floors thinking about what this will contribute to their own career. Unfortunately, this hologram manager behaviour can translate into tremendous longevity in their position or even lead to more promotions (stranger things have been seen). But, frankly, what good is a manager without the support of his or her team? What kind of positive impact, beyond his or her office games, does he or she have on the organisation? And, if we go financially, what kind of return does it really bring to have a manager who is a mercenary who thinks more about himself/herself than about making his/her team shine and making the organisation shine?
Here and now, hologram managers cause tremendous disaffection that impacts negatively on a global level in any department or organisation. In fact, if we take a look, we will see that precisely those organisations that maintain hologram managers (real survivors of the system) are the ones that are slowing down the most. As an organisation, are you interested, for some illogical reason, in maintaining this style? Very well, then invest in a real hologram to replace the hologram manager. At least you will improve your personnel costs and your P&L will thank you for that.