The posts you read on this blog are mostly about projects, the way an organisations DNA must change if it wants what it says it does, and the challenge of balancing the business drivers for that change with the dynamics of those on the receiving end of it.
Balancing all this takes a combination of leadership and management. Without leadership people won’t have direction or guidance, and without management the company has no clue whether they’ve achieved the desired result or not. A company can be as inclusive as it likes, empower its employees, and push the boundaries of innovation but… if it has people filling roles entitled ‘manager’ without knowing how to manage, it’s got a problem.
From executive level to daily ops, from programmes of multi-million dollar/pound/euro proportions to projects with miniscule budgets, the ability to manage is critical. Yet ‘management’ seems to have been pushed into the background. Execs that give a damn may now been seen as abdicating responsibility as, unwilling to deal with conflict or with bigger fish to fry, they look to their direct reports to pick up the slack. Middle management may be more concerned with keeping the peace rather than making those tough decisions and taking the necessary action to effect change.
How did this happen? Why has it happened? There is a multitude of reasons and of course gazillions of books written on the subject. Because there’s no single reason and rather than discussing the why’s and wherefore’s, let’s take a look at options for re-establishing an equilibrium for ‘manager’.
If you’re the one recruiting or promoting someone into a management role you need to consider a few fundamentals. If you want to be in a management role you must be prepared to learn the basics, take responsibility for them and do them well. There are no short-cuts in either of these.
A few things to think about when filling a management function…
Make an informed decision:
Not everyone is management material and square pegs in round holes are as useless as chocolate teapots. Hmmm…. Think about what the company, the role and the individual need for the future. Learn to recognise capability and resist the temptation to over-promote.
Stretch and grow:
Learning and development plans are important so people learn new skills, grow in their careers and further extend their contribution. Regardless of individual wants or expectations these plans must align and support what the company needs.
Provide support and direction:
Giving someone an opportunity to stretch is one thing, chucking them off the management cliff without a parachute is quite another. Give them clarity, direction, and be clear about expectations and consequence. New managers eventually find their way and their own style so why not make the journey a little easier for them and you.
If for some reason there’s a square peg in a round hole, change it. The longer you leave it the worse things will get. The staff you can least afford to leave will leave. The programmes you can least afford to fail will fail. The buck stops with whoever made the decision. Accept it, fix it, and move on.
Things to think about as a new-ish manager …
For the new manager - it’s important to you know that no one’s going to do it for you. You have responsibilities and the buck for those responsibilities stops with you. If you don’t know something, ask. If you don’t like something change it. If you’re not willing to change it don’t complain about it or point the finger elsewhere.
Ask for help:
If something doesn’t work or you’re not sure what to do, ask someone else. People who are willing to give help and advice are everywhere. If you don’t ask you don’t get and crawling under a rock hoping that whatever’s happening will just go away if you ignore it, is bad form regardless of where you sit in the organisations hierarchy.
Note: management training courses haven’t been mentioned on purpose. They have their place however managers cannot completely abdicate responsibility for developing management skills in others. If training courses were that good there would be no mentors and no management issues. Right?