Dabble & Disappear Managers

Most of the topics I write about are specific to our industry, but this one is pretty universal. However, with staffs shrinking in recent years, it seems to be a little more prevalent in radio now than in other businesses. Which is unfortunate because when this problem exists at a radio group my job of helping them increase their ratings and revenue is particularly challenging. The phenomenon I’m referencing is something I like to call dabble and disappear managers. Which is essentially exactly what it sounds like. Someone in management, usually upper management, who likes to get really involved on a granular level for very short periods of time, stirring everything up. Then walking away and fully disconnecting from the chaos they’ve created while leaving others to clean up their mess. If you fear you are a dabble and disappear manager, or you work with one and are in a position to suggest changes, here are some steps to help mitigate the damage.

A strong second in command directly under a dabble and disappear style manager is a must for maintaining a healthy corporate environment. Someone who’s opinion and authority they respect enough to allow them to push back and set some reasonable boundaries for the times that the behavior is the most problematic. This person has to report directly to them for this structure to work and have the patience to pick their battles, the experience to know what they’re talking about and likeable enough to earn the respect of their peers.

An organizational chart that makes it clear exactly who is responsible for what and who everyone answers to. This is mission critical with a dabble and disappear manager so there’s something documented that the rest of the staff can use to push back. Typically, personality types who struggle with this type of behavior are very resistant to putting anything like an organizational chart in place because they have control issues and fear it will take away some of their control over the organization that they care so much about. But, it’s absolutely necessary to reduce the damage and eventually help curb the behavior enough to allow the company to thrive.

Self-sufficient employees who care enough about the organization to take the initiative and do the things that are falling through the cracks amidst the chaos. In my experience most successful groups that are struggling with a dabble and disappear manager within their organization are able to do so because of a handful of strong, self-sufficient, go getters acting as the glue that holds the company together. However, if both a strong number two and an organizational chart aren’t also in place, even a full staff of self-sufficient employees won’t be enough to make it all work.

Most dabble and disappear managers are not particularly bad people, there are just certain personality types that have a tough time finding the proper balance of when and how to get involved. Plus, they tend to also be very passionate about their industry and business. So, the behavior actually stems from a good place. Because of that there’s hope that they’ll recognize the challenges their behavior creates for their companies or be open to someone they trust pointing it out to them so they can work to correct it.

What do you think? Do you have any experience working with dabble and disappear managers or were you one in the past and, if so, how did you curb the behavior? Comment below or email me at Andy@RadioStationConsultant.com.

Pic designed by LightFieldStudios for Envato Elements.

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