Managing "across differences" is one of the most difficult and important challenges any manager can face, Thomas said. Relationships across these lines, unless managers make an active effort otherwise, are less likely to be developmental. People on both sides are hesitant if not afraid to take risks for fear of inviting scrutiny. They might suppress their differences rather than discuss them openly, and the manager’s feedback to the employee may be adequate but of limited value toward the employee’s development.
Most people manage for performance’s sake rather than for development, he added. Managers who manage for performance are more likely to be blindsided by events they should have foreseen and in many cases fixed—such as the sudden departure of a star employee for greener pastures or, more commonly, a sense of discouragement that festers when someone believes, with reason, that the organization is not in his or her corner.