I think one of the biggest problems in today’s world is managers. Yet everyone out there wants to be a manager. Everyone thinks they can do a better job (and probably can in some cases) than their manager. In a few studies done of why people choose to leave a company, not liking their manager has consistently ranked as the top reason why people leave. This has to beg the question: If managers are so important, why don’t companies actually do something about it?
I have to admit that I wish I knew why, because it’s a huge problem. I know it’s a problem because in my last two jobs my managers were the biggest reason I either left, or wanted to leave. So let’s review a couple of common errors businesses make in their managers.
- A manager role is viewed as a right of passage. You’re good at your job, so let’s put you in charge of other people that do that same job. The biggest problem with this is that they stop doing what they were good at and fail at the managing part.
- Managers have to report to the people above them. That’s where their promotion came from, that’s who decides their bonus. That’s where their loyalty is. Unfortunately, because this is the mentality, most managers make the terrible mistake of treating the employees under them as mere pawns and objects, not as people. They are more worried about pleasing the top than they are about managing the people correctly below them. Ironically, they would actually please the top more if they were to manage better, but we’ll get to that.
- Managers confuse implementing the ideas from the top with the ability to exercise power and authority over those below them. Managers should manage, not dictate. Sadly, we hardly see that these days.
- Managers sometimes believe “I got here because I’m good and that makes me smarter than you.” Listen up, no matter how smart you are, you aren’t the smartest. Besides, it’s not about being the smartest, or having power, it’s about getting your team to perform the best it can.
- Companies hardly get to hear the problems from beneath the manager. Hierarchy levels prevent a good feedback loop from occurring. I say, if my manager gets to evaluate my performance, why can’t I evaluate my manager’s? I think it would help a ton.
With all this being said, we must ask ourselves, what can companies do, or I do as a manager.
As a Company
- Face the hard facts, most managers are not good managers.
- Provide training for your managers and teach them how to be an effective manager.
- Create larger feedback loops to understand how managers actually do their managing.
- Make time to talk to managers about their employees, if you listen carefully you can tell if a manager actually cares or not.
- Make good management a priority and expect it from your employees.
- Face the hard facts, you probably aren’t that good of a manager.
- Read books and seek to improve. Books like Leadership and Self-deception: getting out of the box, are great books to help you understand how to think as a manager.
- Humble yourself and learn that being a manager isn’t about receiving praise, get off your high horse and stop being a pain.
- Talk to the employees under you, see what they think, ask for feedback and here’s a novel concept, actually listen and thank them for their feedback!
- Learn that it is your job to help your employees be successful. Stop going off to all these meetings and doing a whole bunch of stuff. The more time you spend not helping or working with your employees, the worse they will be.
These are just some simple ideas I’ve had this morning. There are many more. I just hope that someone out there will learn, we can always improve.