In our second blog in the series-connected to EPIC Engagement, we are taking a look into management practice and one of the most common situations that we have found that actively encourages poor management practices during a period of growth and change for an organisation.
Would you ever hire an accountant with no bookkeeping training? How about a doctor who hadn’t been to medical school? Of course, you would – such unwise choices are actually very similar to what occurs every day across many organisations!
It’s common sense that most skilled jobs require some degree of formal and informal training – and yet for one of the jobs that is most crucial to an organisation’s success, we frequently throw people in with no training at all: MANAGING.
Many people get promoted into management jobs because they were good at something else. They were a good engineer or a good salesperson, and so they’re asked to manage engineers or salespeople. Perhaps they were one the most technically competent in the team, the subject matter expert in the department or the best or most reliable performer. The problem is, the skills that it takes to manage people well, are often a completely different skillset from whatever work the person was doing previously. Part of it, too, is a tradition – if you’re a manager who didn’t get much training and had to figure it out on your own, it’s easy to think that that’s just how it works and others can do it too. As we now know, previous generations are very different from newer generations entering the workplace!
You have to know how to set clear expectations, how to delegate responsibilities, how to check in on work as it progresses without micromanaging or being overly hands-off, how to select great people and develop them, how to give feedback, how to have difficult conversations about performance problems and other tricky topics, how to hold people accountable without being overly forceful, how to resolve conflict – the list goes on and on! All of this without considering inspiring, motivating, coaching and, of course, leading. It’s really hard work! And it doesn’t come naturally to most people – which is why most of us make a whole load of mistakes as we’re learning our craft of being an influential manager and are continually required to expand our toolkit.
And it’s not that companies never provide any support. Some managers are sent on management training courses, where they’re supposed to learn the basics. But a one or two day class just gets your feet wet; it shouldn’t be the entirety of the support that new managers get – and yet it often is. They are often expected to be able to apply such skills immediately, yet attempts to apply them will often be met with failure. Does that make them useless? No! Far from it! We are benefitted by such training to aid our ongoing development…we’re expanding our toolkit and various tool swill be required for different jobs. We’re expanding our options and enabling our managers to make even better choices through a more expansive skillset. But guess what? Mistakes will happen and how we are supported through such phases of development becomes so crucial so that all that learning isn’t lost or completely disregarded.
It’s a sad state of affairs that some managers don’t even get a class; they’re just thrown in and left to wing it, with little guidance or support from above and this poses many risks for the individual, their team members and the business.
So is it any surprise that there are loads of terrible managers out there…yes, truly terrible. Here’s just a selection of the typical things they do – have you been on the receiving end of any of these before?
- Managers who assign work without being clear about what they want, and who frustrate their staff when they keep sending it back for revisions, without having ever laid out a clear vision or expectations in the first place.
- Managers who won’t address problems and let serious issues fester in their teams for months (or even years) because they want to avoid awkward conversations…or don’t want to upset anyone.
- Managers who treat employees like wayward children.
- Weak managers, rude managers, waffling managers, autocratic managers – there are so many different varieties of managerial incompetence! Have you been on the receiving end of any of these?
And yet the quality of managers has a direct impact on the bottom line – as well as on its ability to attract and retain great employees and to get the best results from them while they have them. Consider this, of all of your management population, which level is truly driving the performance of the business? There will be varying views, but in our experience, it sits with your middle management – the highest volume of managers that you have, the ones that connect with employees the most and the level of management that have the most opportunities to dictate the performance, quality and productivity of your employee’s work. However, these are often over-looked for quality skills development and have also been over-promoted without gaining the necessary tools.
Bad managers drive away good people, and hold teams back from achieving what they otherwise could. So why, then, don’t organisations put more of an emphasis on training and developing new managers in how to do their jobs? Part of the ‘typical’ answer is that employers simply don’t value management enough as a skill of its own or that managers are not rewarded for exemplary management practices. They see someone who’s good at their job function and assume they’ll be good at managing people who do that job function too. The preference is for managers that can deliver the number, regardless of the carnage that they can cause along the way. Does this sound familiar? How does this contribute to your employee engagement?
Employers would do well to consider the support on offer, the capabilities to provide quality coaching and feedback and the option of mentoring within the business – especially from the ‘wise’ members of senior management. Pairing new managers with more experienced colleagues – but doing that means valuing management as a skill in the first place, is a great initiative. And until we do that, it’s certain that less-good managers and their less-good practices will continue to flourish.
If you, like many, wish to explore a new and better way, then contact email@example.com. We can help support you and your leadership teams with delivering better results. We can deliver for you the competence, confidence and commitment that may be holding your people back.
EPIC Engagement is a solution for driving employee engagement through better equipped management practices. Our innovative solution should be considered as a comprehensive development programme, diagnostic and measurement aid for one of the most important business metrics to your organisation’s performance and productivity. The EPIC Engagement approach focuses on the two biggest catalysts to employee engagement – how employees feel about their work and the capability and influence of their manager. Through this programme, we will measure your manager’s current capabilities for delivering the kind of experience that will inspire their people to perform. Once they have mastered certain core aspects of management and leadership, we can continue to measure their ability to inspire, motivate and engage their people in the core elements of Expectations, Progress, Inspiration and Collaboration. Speak with Emerge today at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free and non-obligatory discussion around the EPIC Engagement programme.