There are many types of managers in the workplace. Those that take on a mentoring approach towards their team, and others who prefer to maintain a distant authority throughout the workday. But, according to Art Markman, a professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, sometimes, a boss who ignores you could be doing you a favour. Sound odd? Hear us out. According to Markam, this tough-love approach can encourage employees to think for themselves, and tap into their problem-solving skills, as opposed to being bailed out, and never forced to use their more lateral skillset. Markam writing for Fast Company says:
"By encouraging them to solve problems on their own before coming to you, you’re developing them into more efficient, high-value workers and reinforcing the fact that you have your own priorities (which they should respect). Likewise, they will learn that it’s perfectly acceptable to prioritise their own work as long as they help out their teammates in a timely fashion."
While it’s caused some controversy since it started trending on LinkedIn—with many professionals both disagreeing and agreeing with this method of management. It seems that what Markam is really suggesting is for supervisors to procrastinate their responses to questions, allowing some room for employees to think and problem solve before being fed the answer. He also asserts that this could in fact lead to more efficiency, in that if there is a question next time, they are more likely to have trouble-shooted it first. "When they do come to you with a question, you can be confident that they’ve attempted to find the answer themselves—and you’re more likely to have a productive discussion about the issue."
And though there’s no guarantee this strategy would work as a blanket rule for every employee, it is a comforting thought for those who feel like their boss ignores them for more personal reasons. In fact, it could just be a low-key form of professional development. At least that's one way to re-frame it.
Markman A. This Is How To Turn Procrastination Into A Management Technique. Fast Company. January 1, 2018.