The Managers

People don’t usually leave companies or jobs, they leave people. Time and time again, when we ask our candidates why they want to move they will cite their manager. 

‘They never listen’, ‘I don’t know what he/she wants’, ‘There is no room to progress, and no-one to promote me’, ‘He/she just doesn’t like me’.

This doesn’t mean that these people, ‘The Managers’, are horrible people – they provide value to their employers, it’s just that they are in the wrong job.

There is a strange status thing with managing people. People with three or more years’ experience start to collect them like badges. ‘I manage three people’, ‘I manage seven people’. To be honest in the early part of my career, my dad could only equate my success with the size of my team.

In today’s complex world, not everyone can manage people – it is a skill that requires a particular set of attributes, some of which can be learnt and some that just come as part of your DNA. In the previous issue of Impact, Michael Brown shared his story, highlighting the problem of stress in the workplace. Someone with three years’ experience couldn’t possibly handle that situation, and these are the real-life situations that managers deal with daily.

So, my advice, if you are starting your career, don’t count managing people as a measure of success. Build your skills, knowledge, confidence and, if you are destined to manage people, you will. Respect your seniors and, if they think you aren’t ready – trust them.

If you are hiring someone to be a manager, take references from previous reports if you can. Invest time in the interview process to test this skill and ask your recruiter to test this skill in candidates they meet for you.

If you are training someone to be a manager, don’t focus on the traditional training methods. Use leadership coaching, and if they don’t have what it takes, don’t make them a manager. There are a huge range of technical training courses that are readily available. We have seen evidence a coaching style training approach yields great results. 

And training must continue, particularly for new managers. They will encounter new situations all the time so will need a mentor or regular support from HR as they learn.
Set up an internal group of managers, let them share successes and failures and learn from each other.

Also, if you are a business owner be realistic about how much time out of a week your manager needs to spend on ‘managing people’. It may be that they don’t have as much time for project management. You don’t want to sacrifice the people so look at how you are running your teams. Can you move things around to create more space for management?

The better your management team, the stronger your output to clients will be, and the happier your staff will be…resulting in lower staff turnover, high employee engagement and a perfect world.

-Sinead Hasson

Published by: Impact 12/01/2018