First, an explanation as to why there are so many bad managers in the world, despite the ginormous number of books there are on leadership. (Over 21 thousand listed on Amazon as of this post.)Most managers are people, who, for one reason or another, were very good at the jobs they had before they were promoted to a management position. At some point, a manager was needed. The higher ups figured, "hey, that lady is good at her job. She is responsible. She is diligent. Let's make her the new manager!"
So, there she is, all excited about her new position, she is learning the job and figuring out the spreadsheets, the accounting software, the vendor information, where to send what forms and what all the deadlines are. She is doing well learning the skills part of her job, except for one small detail: management, the actual handling of people. Directing, coaching, leading; these things have not even been broached. She has not been taught the exact science or subtle art of communication.
Communication training, more than any other, could guarantee her success as a manager. Most likely, she will not receive any. She might not even be aware that she needs it, or, if she is, she is too insecure about her job to ask for it. This set-up is very common. This is how you create abusive managers. You put new managers into a situation where they do not have the skills to do the job, they become insecure because they know they are not good at it, they are too afraid to ask for help because of their insecurity, and they end up making their employees miserable because of it.
I, myself have been promoted to management positions on several occasions in different industries without any type of communication or personnel training. It is usually quite a mess. Here are all the reasons why it doesn't work out:
- This new manager is now managing people who used to be their peers. Very often, there are bad feelings and unrealistic expectations regarding this change
- This new manager has had no opportunity to prepare for the rigors of personnel management, which is usually a large part of any management job. Talking to employees, directing, coaching, and mentoring takes a lot more time than anyone (who isn't a manager) ever expects
- There is usually very little oversight from this new manager's manager regarding employee management/communication. This is a reasonable assumption as this person's manager just made the "easy" decision to promote instead of going through the process of interviewing qualified candidates
- This new manager is usually too insecure about the position they hold to ask for help because they are afraid it will make them look like they can't handle it
- Very often, the new manager wants to be liked by their employees, which is different and no where near as effective as being respected by them
Here is a little quiz I use in order to keep myself on track as a manager. I make sure that I am able to answer yes to all of these questions. How many can you answer yes to?
- Before you were made a manager, did you have any training covering employee engagement/management? If the answer is none, have you since sought out help in this regard?
- Is it easy for you to speak openly with your employees about their weaknesses, especially when they are doing something wrong?
- Is it easy for you to speak openly with your employees about your own weaknesses?
- Do you have an easy time helping your employees work out their problems with each other?
- Do you, at least once a week, ask your employees (individually) if there is anything that you can do for them to help them do their jobs better?
- Do you speak to your employees at least once a quarter about their career goals?
- Is it easy for you to be unemotional when you are speaking with your employees about improving performance standards?
- Do you encourage your employees to speak openly with you regarding how you are doing?
- Do you see yourself as responsible for your employees successes and failures?
- Do you allow your employees to learn from their mistakes?
- Do you make sure your employees take responsibility for their action/inaction?
My guideline is that if I cannot answer yes to all of these, I am not doing what I should as a manager. If I am answering "no" to more than four, I am crap. I have to work on improving so that I can be an asset to my employees.
If you take this quiz, be as honest as you can be. These are all things you should be doing for your employees on a regular basis. As a manager of people, it is your job to supply the tools and support that your employees need in order to ensure their success.
Most managers think that their employees are there to serve them, when, in reality, it is the manager's job to serve their employees. It is also an absolute that any manager who has achieved any level of true success has done so through proper employee management and mentoring. As a manager, your success depends on the success of your employees. If you are not treating them as such, your organization/company/department will struggle.
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