Managing People: Myth of Maturity

In my last 10+ year of experience I have faced this issue many a time at the both side of table whether – a) I am immature, b) My Team is immature.

In earlier days of my career, I have many a times got disappointed when I hear that I couldn’t be given answer to my question or I couldn’t be aware of real situation because I am not mature. I have been very frustrated on a number of occasions with my leads/managers when they fail to tell a simple truth beforehand put me or team in an embarrassing situation either in front of customer, fellow team or sometime in our own eyes.

For example one of my team mate was asked to keep working on piece of code which would have been redundant on out of scope weeks ago. He completed that piece and delivered and learned from his onsite peer (thankfully onsite peer not from customer) that he had been working wastefully since weeks as it was out of scope. Imagine the state of mind that young fellow. He walked to his team lead and asked the reason why he was not told and put on that piece of work. On a very serious note, he asked further even if you wanted to learn this piece of code you could have let him know that this is out of scope and he should take it as self-learning exercise rather than put him on an embarrassing situation. Team lead didn’t gave him any satisfactory reason, but on a later off record conversation he told few of us that he wouldn’t want to pass this message earlier to him as he was not mature enough.

On another occasion, when I used to be Team Lead, we came to know that we lost the project to our rival service company. I wanted to pass this message to my team which is a team of mostly young fresh college pass out graduated with maximum of 6 Months experience. But I was stopped by my then manager (who happens to be 14 Year of Experience) sighting a reason that team will lose moral as they are immature. On the same week, team had a meeting with its Delivery Manager and since it was a group of young energetic graduate, they happened to ask the question related to their growth in account and future course of project. Delivery Manager (who is 20+ Years of exp) saw the group with surprise, saw the manager with a different look and asked team and said that she was not sure if the team aware that we lost this piece of work to rival service company (in fact she named the rival company as well).

In both real time examples, few things are common:

  1. Neither the developer nor the group of young graduate showed any sign of immaturity.
  2. Both the developer as well as the group lost their trust to team lead and manager respectively.
  3. Both felt embarrassed in front of external party which might impacted their moral.

Such maturity debate is more common and having more prominence when one is dealing with policy matters, performance appraisals, client relations etc. I have experienced that Managers and Team Leader often put up the stories rather than the explaining plain and simple fact on basis of concept of maturity. Many occasions when I asked them what it take to explain to their team about the real basis of a policy, or bell curve or for that matter limited opportunities of onsite assignment; I do get the answer that team or particular person is not so mature to understand.

In my opinion, Concept of Maturity is one of biggest weakness in landscape of people management. I do not agree with idea of maturity which come with the age or some would say with the experience. An employees who is matured enough to be hired to an organization to serve to an organization on complex project cannot be and should not be termed as IMMATURE for the convenience sake of management. It is against the idea of entire education system, that a graduate is being termed as immature. Many a times, I see an employee who is husband and father termed as immature just for the management convenience or I would rather put bluntly that management is not ready to face tough questions or difficult situation.

Therefore, I would prefer to treat my team members as mature as they are. And for that:

  1. Treat your team members with respect. Younger generation is anyway smarter than the older one.
  2. Never give them stories.
  3. Speak the truth. Team Members like the truth rather than the stories. And everybody is smart to catch your stories.
  4. Tell your team the hard truth and prepare them to deal with it.
  5. If one feel not comfortable to tell some facts of issue, ask forgiveness, and tell the team that one is not ready to share the information at this moment.
  6. Develop trust based relationship with your team which is long lasting rather than the story based which is shaky and can be ended as the truth emerges sooner or later.

Therefore, it is important to eliminate the concept of maturity from the people management and one should treat his colleagues and junior with respect and trust. There is nothing more important than the trust based relationship in people management.

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I am cool, calm, collected, and reasonable Virgo. I currently reside in Garden City Bangalore. I am an Engineering Graduate and work as Management Consultant.

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