From the Ask Tom mailbag –
You talk about the manager once removed, the manager’s manager. That’s me. You say that I should have a mentoring relationship with the team two levels below. Our company has a policy that if I need to communicate with that team, I am required to go through their manager. It’s almost a forbidden relationship.
It’s an unfortunate policy. As the manager once removed, there is a required relationship with the team two levels of work below. Now, it’s not an accountability relationship. It is a mentoring relationship.
The direct manager has an accountability relationship, and the conversation with the team member is all about production. The manager once removed has a mentoring relationship and the conversation is about longer time span issues like career advancement, training opportunities and work environment.
This is an absolute requirement. You see, at some point, the manager role will become vacant (all relationships, at some point, are terminal). The manager once removed will be faced with replacing the manager. The first place to source candidates will be internal. But, if the manager once removed does not have a coherent mentoring relationship, the MOR will have no clue as to who may be able to step up. In that case, the MOR will have to start at square one.