Monday, October 23, 2006

"...the door was always open..."

Managers always like to tell people that their "door is always open" when in fact it takes two to tango. Part of management 101 is communication, communication, communication, but just leaving your door open is only part of the process - sometimes you need to "manage by walking", get out of the office and talk to people on their own turf or outside of the standard boundaries of the organization. Some people need to be shown where the door is and how to open it.

Just telling people that your door is always open only means that you are waiting for them to initiate the conversation. While it's a good gesture and meant to imply that your employees should feel comfortable and welcome in approaching their manager with an issue, you aren't going to be an effective manager just going through the motions while sitting in your office, disconnected with what is going on around you. In each case quoted in this article - Kielty, Payton, Bradley - the players came to him, not the other way around. A manager perceived as aloof or uninterested in what's going on "in the trenches" is a manager that will NOT be approached regularly by employees or seen as the solution to their problems.

Macha mentions that he had 6 coaches and he never heard of any "undercurrent going on" with the players. A good manager would have known without even speaking to his coaches that there was a problem with a player or players. Good managers know because they have the pulse of their employees. Although a good manager will often seek the opinion and insight of other supervisors and management in relation to his employees, he should not have to rely only on them to be alerted of any problems or difficulties.

Again, in the case of Kotsay and his bad back, Macha indicated he had no idea the outfielder was upset at his comments and again put the burden of communication on his players:

If Kotsay was really disturbed by that comment, he could have come in and said so.
A manager in tune with his employees would have sensed a problem earlier on and approached the employee with an invitation to resolve the issue.

It's obvious that Macha and Beane didn't get along and possible that Beane treated Macha poorly while in Oakland. It's also obvious that some of the players did not care for Macha. But to me the real reason he was fired is quite simple: Macha was simply not a good manager. And when I say manager I mean a manager of people, not the game.


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