I’d like to pose a challenge. Let’s reconsider promoting an individual to the position of managing others, if we even remotely suspect that they are not up to the task. On another level — please think twice about accepting the responsibility of becoming a manager if you feel at all unprepared. Unfortunately, there seems to be an ancient and unwritten workplace law operating — telling us that when we reach a certain level of tenure or performance, we are automatically bestowed the responsibility of managing others. This may be exactly where the original problem lies; a complete lack of awareness concerning what is involved to manage others effectively. We need to consider these junctures more carefully, as we have more than our share of problems with managers already.
Let me talk you out of your decision, delay it, at least until you or the employee are adequately prepared for the challenge. A solid technical expert does not “a manager make” — and truthfully, there are only a handful of people who should be given the privilege of becoming a “boss”. Most of us require appropriate training or the benefit of a mentor to build this skill set.
It’s difficult to move forward without addressing this critical issue. Providing great bosses for our employees, is a formative step in building healthier, happier organizations. It is likely the single most important factor impacting employee engagement. However, its impact upon organizational performance may not be universally recognized. The true power of “excellence in managing others” is not be fully embraced. There are certainly great bosses in the workplace and we need to collectively learn more from them. Who are they? What are they doing?
There is no time like the present to attack this problem. Developing better managers may actually be less complicated than we might expect — but we have to make that all important commitment to explore this fully. We should consider addressing the managerial basics first: Showing concern for employees, building resiliency, serving as a “motivator” (money only takes us so far), providing direction and developing others.
But, above all, do no harm.
I am alarmed to learn what employees are facing with their own managers. The collected expressions of frustration and bewilderment, cause me to pause and consider a number of the raised questions concerning managers:
- What are best practices for recognizing, developing and encouraging effective managers? (I propose a Department of Managerial Excellence.)
- Who is ultimately responsible for a poor manager?
- What recourse do employees have if their manager is ineffective?
- What is the organization’s role to monitor and intervene, in response to poor management?
- Are poor managers offered feedback concerning their lack of skills, as managers, so they might improve?
Have we been missing the boat, in terms of weaving the shared value of “management excellence” into the workplace? Have the economic times caused us to become forgetful of its importance? If so, what can we do to reverse the trend?
Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist. She also writes at LinkedIn.