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Does your ‘evil twin’ manager need to be tamed?

Kwon Kiso, Flowers Gallery

Many managers have an evil twin that only their staff see. This substandard sibling is born of poorly executed ideas and inadequately expressed good intentions.

This is a metaphor developed by Jill Geisler, writing for Fortune. She says she has met numerous evil twins while reviewing the 360-degree feedback of managers she has taught and coached.

Fortunately, Geisler emphasises, it is possible to discover your evil twins and disown them before they do any lasting damage. To help with this, the author offers the following five tips:

1) Talk about values "early and often". Make clear what you genuinely stand for and "evil twin" scenarios will be less likely to develop.

2) Don't assume people understand your motives. Geisler points to psychological research into "attribution theory" which suggests that humans are constantly trying to determine the motives of others.

"The problem is," she observes, "we're very likely to guess wrong."

3) Don't be afraid to explain yourself. Some managers wrongly believe that they shouldn't have to explain the "why" behind their directives or initiatives. On the contrary – it's always important to provide a context.

4) Invite feedback. This can act as an early detection system for your evil twin.

5) Understand the impact of good intentions. When you clearly mean well, people will be more willing to forgive your mistakes.

How Bosses Can Rise Above Their 'Evil Twins'
Jill Geisler