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?

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?