Do We Need To Rethink How We Hire Managers?

I can still hear the advice that was given to me years ago loud and clear, “You want to be a manager if you want to move up in the world”.  Being a manager is what most of us see as the first step in climbing the proverbial corporate ladder.  Depending what organization you work for and what industry you work in, being a manager is the prerequisite to director and vice president and so forth.   But what actually makes a good manager, and how do you evaluate that?

Not everyone is cut out for management
Not everyone is cut out for management

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic suggests that “The Best Managers are Boring Managers”.  In his article on Harvard Business Review, Thomas writes that “it is time for organizations to understand that their best potential managers are not the people who stand out; they are not the people who self-promote and take credit for others’ achievements, or have mastered the art of politics and upward career management. They may lack charisma and have no remarkable vision for the future, yet they are probably the best people to help execute the company vision and ensure that staff stays engaged and productive”.  Could this be true?  Well if you think about it, a manager is successful as long as his or her team can come through for them.  So it would make sense if a manager’s top priority would be to motivate the team to work at their best.  In order to do that, a good manager would want to put the needs of their team before any of their own.  Ego would be have to left at the door. 

If a good manager is one that is on the constant look out for his or her team, then one suggestion would be for the team to have a voice in managerial promotion and evaluation.  That was the suggestion by Tariq Ahmad in his post, “Should organizations ‘Promote Down’ instead of ‘Promote Up?’”.  Tariq writes that, “while a person who wants to be promoted wants to impress upper management (and may have all the requisites necessary to succeed at the next level), the colleagues and direct reports of those people might not like working with them or don’t speak highly of them, which could be an indicator of what type of future manager/director/VP this person might (or might not) be”.  It’s definitely and interesting point, especially considering that “Bad Managers Are the No. 1 Reason People Leave Their Jobs”, according to PayScale.

So what does it all add up to?  Well it goes to show that not everyone is cut out for management, and that’s ok.  Companies need to give employees other ways to move up the corporate ladder without necessarily getting into management, or management of people anyway. 

How is management handled where you are, and do you feel that the process needs to change?

A Glimpse Of Real Leadership

A Glimpse Of Real Leadership
Is your leader worth following? Photo credit © VinothChandar
There are plenty of blogs and articles devoted to leadership, and it kind of makes me wonder if there is a shortage of really good leaders. A short while ago I had the honor of experiencing an example of what real leadership is, and I’ll never forget it.

The experience wasn’t some grand presentation or speech, or award winning plan or huge sale. It wasn’t some martyr syndrome act of perceived sacrifice either. Instead it was a simple text message to ask if I was ok. That’s it. No grandiose chest thumping self-promotion, just a quiet, simple text message. In fact the only spotlight it will ever receive is due to this blog post. It was an ego-free, kind act of unselfishness.

This person that I had the pleasure of working with understood the value of relationships and the value of people, when it came to building a team. This person also understood the power of motivation and knew how to motivate others. And that was through transparency and a dedication to building genuine relationships. Whenever I spoke to this person, I never got the sense that they were looking past me or uninterested in the conversation. This person understood that a leader is nothing without a team to back them up. I’d work for this person again in a heartbeat.

Do you have any personal examples of real leadership to share? I’d love to hear them.

Are You An “Un-motivational Expert” In The Workplace?

Are you sapping all of the energy out of your employees? Photo © Cristiano Betta
Are you sapping all of the energy out of your employees? Photo © Cristiano Betta
In this day and age, jobs are more than just a paycheck. Employees want to be challenged and motivated by the jobs they hold. Motivating employees can be tough; each person is unique and can respond to different motivational tactics differently. But sometimes we can demotivate our employees without realizing it. In no particular order, here are some things you can do to demotivate your employees.

Don’t give them any goals
You might think that the daily responsibilities that each employee has is enough to motivate them, but I would disagree. Your workers need a goal to work towards. Goals give employees something to aim for, something to achieve. The potential success of achieving goals set for them motivates employees to do their best work.

Give them goals that are too easy
Easy goals to attain are a quick way of building up someone’s confidence and keeps people interested, initially. But after a while easy goals just encourage laziness. Eventually people will know the minimal effort they’ll need to give to attain the easy goals and they’ll be done.

Give them goals that are impossible
The complete opposite of having no goals or goals that are too easy is giving your employees goals that are impossible to attain. This might work at the start of a new job, but constant failure gets old very fast, especially when people realize that it no matter how hard they try, they’ll fail anyway.

Don’t empower them
A really quick way to demotivate those working for you is to give them no responsibility. If your employees have no decision making ability whatsoever, chances are they aren’t going to stick around for very long.

Micromanage them
Along the same lines of empowerment, or lack thereof, always watching your employees every move to make sure they’re doing things the way you want them too is another really quick way to demotivate them.

Don’t listen to their ideas
Yes, your staff was hired to do a job, but they were also hired because they brought some skill that was deemed useful to the organization. Let’s face it, managers don’t know everything, nor should they be expected to. If you consistently shoot down your employees ideas, or don’t even bother to ask for any, they’ll slowly stop contributing.

Put them where they don’t fit
As a manager, you should know what your employees’ strengths and weaknesses are. If you don’t, then you’re placed in the wrong role. Placing people in roles that they’re not suited for is a quick way for people to lose interest.

I would love to hear your feedback on this topic. I think at times we focus a lot of on what motivates others (and rightfully so) that we don’t consider the opposite which could be happening right at this moment unintentionally. What did I miss? In your experience, what other ways have you been demotivated at work?

Lessons From Sports – Always Be Willing To Learn

Raise Your Hand
Raise Your Hand © UC Davis College of Engineering
I’ve always thought that there were valuable life lessons that you could learn from sports, and I think that there are business lessons that can be learned from sports as well. I’ve always enjoyed playing sports; so much so that I’d rather play than watch them on TV. As I got older I did what every player does when they can’t play anymore, I started coaching. I’ve been coaching basketball for about 10 years now and it’s taught me a lot. I’ve learned from the players I’ve coached and from the experience in general.

To everyone who has asked me about coaching I’ve always said that the moment that I’m not willing to learn is the moment that I should stop. The teams that I coach are constantly changing. The players change, there could be new players or the existing ones get better or get worse. The competition changes too, as does the game of basketball itself. With all of these changes a coach needs to constantly adapt and make adjustments. These adaptations and adjustments happen through learning and so I try to learn from the best. I’ll watch who I feel are the best basketball coaches’ games on TV and whatever instructional DVD’s they produce. I’ll do my best to absorb as much as possible from these successful coaches and apply what I learn to my teams. This is absolutely necessary if my teams are to continue to be successful!

Management in any business needs to be constantly learning as well, and things change much more rapidly and frequently in business than they do in basketball. Strategies and technology will not sit and wait for you to catch up; they will both continue to move on with or without you. Take social media for example, it’s sad to hear people still ask what Facebook is, or how Google+ works, misspeak and refer to Twitter as “Tweeter”, confuse the difference between a blog and a forum, and even say that “maybe social media is going away”. My feeling is that even if you personally don’t like social media you must understand what it is and be familiar with it.

At the end of the day, if managers are the decision makers of the business, they need to familiar and up to date with current technologies and strategies. Being surrounded by knowledgeable and capable employees is a good thing, being unfamiliar with current technologies and strategies that those capable employees are recommending is not a good thing. Constantly doing things the way they were done in the past because they refuse to learn anything new does not bode well for the future of the business.

Always be willing to learn, it’s the best way to give yourself the ability to make adjustments for the future.

What are your thoughts on management keeping up with current trends, strategies, and technology? Do you feel that it’s their responsibility to the business to be familiar with these things?