They are not really teens, but rather young energetic managers assigned a major task by senior management. These young managers in their zeal to make a name for themselves drive task implementation across the organization without regard for the impact to business results. This is analogous to young teens being given an adult task and misusing the authority. One example of such a situation often happens during M&A transitions. Senior management, rather than carefully using the existing or newly designed structure, chooses project managers for broad implementations. When these managers are given a task which is often below their normal capability, or LoWa, they don’t see the “big picture” but rather move impudently ahead creating disgruntled employees or disrupting key customer processes.
My parent company was going through many changes including changing its name. I knew that as part of the many changes, my division would be divested and that I must maintain my business and customer relationships through what would be a very challenging time. I received a call from a management teenager informing me that due to the parent company name change all existing brand names would be dropped in favor of the new company name. Even the signs in front of all my locations would be changed almost simultaneously to show the new company name. All arrangements had been centralized under one project team. The person informing me of this good news was about 3 levels of management below me, but casually informed me of their direct authority from the CEO and how no one had any choice but to allow these changes.
I explained that my division would be divested soon and therefore would not need these changes. This only served to agitate the “teenager” who repeatedly informed me of the CEO’s instructions of no exceptions, and that I had no choice to comply. After pointing out to the “teenager” that such a change would likely destroy my customer relationships and my business, I …. Well it is best to say no one changed my brands and no one changed any signs, and the business remained strong through its divestiture.
I was lucky to be able to stand up for my business in this situation. Some department managers and business unit leaders are not so lucky to be able to resist management teenagers and are then blamed for bad results later when the “teenager” is gone. The route cause of this problem is senior management. Don’t use project teams when the tasks are best handled by the existing structure and the authority residing with current managers. If you give authority to a project team at the expense of a current manager, you must release that current manager from accountability for results as well. If there is a problem with the current structure, fix it!! Don’t create management teenagers.
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