The Right to Management Competence (HBR blogs)…or, what to expect from leaders

Imagine that you’re conducting a performance appraisal with one of your people. You’re discussing a major project that didn’t turn out as hoped and you’ve just asked him why.

“Why did it fail?” he says. “Lots of reasons, but mostly because we didn’t get what we needed from you. We were depending on other groups, but they couldn’t have cared less. In fact, they didn’t even know what we were doing and how it would help them. Plus, we never had a real strategy or plan and so we pretty much winged it every day, and every day you seemed to change your mind about what was important. In fact, Jack (your boss) never understood the project. So when people asked him, he couldn’t support us.”

What would your reaction be? We suspect a part of you would be thinking: “He can’t say this. This is insubordination. I’m evaluating him. This isn’t how it works.”

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