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How to recognize hidden agendas of team leaders


Introduction

You don't want to be paranoid but as a business manager, you almost have to assume hidden agendas of team leaders. The reason for this is that team leaders are paid to look out for their teams. They get their evaluations from their employees and likely get their bonuses based on how their team does compared to other teams or departments in the company. Companies are set up departmentally and team leaders often fall into the trap of ignoring the needs of the company and focusing on their own needs. There are ways, however, to recognize when a team leader has a hidden agenda.

Instructions


Difficulty: Medium hard

Steps

Step 1: Know your team leaders. The best way to know if a leader has a hidden agenda or not is to get to know him or her personally. As you get to know your team leaders, you will discover who has altruistic motives, who cares for the company, and who cares for themselves. Try to interact beyond staff meeting and presentations. To know a person personally, you need to spend some non-work time with the person. One good way to do this is to take your team to conferences occasionally. You might also find that inviting one or two of your team leaders to lunch a couple of times a month is a good way to get to know them.

The benefits of getting to know your team leaders on a personal level are two fold. One benefit is that you will learn to read them so that you can better access what their motives are and what their character is like. The other benefit to spending quality time with your leaders is that the more time they spend with you the more they will be invested in the company. Employees who feel invested are more likely to be team players and are less likely to try to implement personal agendas.

Step 2: Ask questions. When a team leader comes to you with a plan for change or an idea for a new program, ask questions. Ask them to write up a small proposal that indicates the purpose or objective of the program, how the company will benefit, how the team will benefit, and an outline of things like deadlines, budgets, procedures, etc. Once you have this proposal, you can decide for yourself what the real motives behind the suggestion are. If the proposal sounds like they are trying too hard to make a case, or if they don't site any benefits to their own team but only to the company, this might raise a red flag. You expect that a team leader is looking out for his or her team. If he or she claims no self-interest, you have to wonder what they are hiding. Ask directly, "what is the benefit to you?" and then carefully observe the body language as the team leader answers this question. What you want to see is a well thought out and direct answer. What you don't want to see is nervousness or a denial of any benefit to themselves.

Step 3: Make managerial bonuses independent of the team. Just having teams causes division and encourages hidden agendas. Help your department heads and team leader work together by tying bonuses to the success of the company as a whole. You want to encourage the teams to work as teams but at the middle management level, you want only one team. When a person is not a team player, this should also be a red flag indicating possible personal agendas. Do what you can to have only team players at the team leader level.

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