Your Managers Have Two Jobs

two managers having a discussionDid you know your managers have two jobs? There’s the one that involves their actual work, whatever it is they do for a living. Then, there’s another one. Arguably a more important one.

Before we get to that, let’s begin by recapping what we’ve covered in my corporate culture blogs the last few Saturdays. We have been discussing developing Explorers in the workplace. These are the people who show the initiative and bring the energy, the people you want working for you.

We’ve have examined several of the must-dos and don’t-dos that will keep Explorers exploring. We also spoke of how to encourage Vacationers (those who coast through their work) to become Explorers, and helped Prisoners (those who wish to be anywhere but the workplace) to examine the benefits of becoming Explorers.

By now you know managers, by every action or inaction, are complicit in the performance – both desired and undesired – of direct reports.

Why Do Managers Struggle?

In many organizations, when people are promoted to supervisory and/or management roles, the decision to promote them is most often based on the skills they have demonstrated in the job from which they are being promoted, not in the job to which they are being promoted.

Joe was a terrific salesman so he’s now heading the sales department.

This isn’t always the best choice. My many years of consulting in different organizations has taught me those making the promotion selections often use the history of good job performance appraisals as a guide in promoting people to supervisory roles.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is not one bit of data to suggest that a person who is an outstanding salesperson can manage a sales team, that a skilled plumber can manage a plumbing division, that a brilliant engineer can manage an engineering unit or that any other demonstrated skill or talent translates into an ability to manage others.

There no cause-and-effect suggesting a good performer will be a good manager. Not only that, there is no correlation of any kind between the two.

Managers Have Two Jobs

When most people leave home in the morning to go to work they have one job to do. When a supervisor or manager goes to work they have two very different jobs to attend to.

If they struggle with either of them, they will invariably perform poorly in both of them.

Their first job is their job. It is everything that is required of them in their role as an employee. This could include project work, reports, budgeting and/or any or many of the different tasks that we undertake while at work.

Then there is the second job – the job of managing their direct reports. And all too often many of these managers, having been promoted to this role, are left on their own with an expectation that having been promoted, they automatically acquired the requisite skills of managing others.

I have often asked newly promoted managers and supervisors what training they received for their new role and have been shocked to hear that most often the training ranged from an hour orientation to a half-day with their predecessor to being sent on a two-day management training program.

I believe that the one of the most important jobs in any organization belongs to those responsible for supervising front-line employees, for it is front-line employees who are most often the folks their customers interact with making them the ambassadors for the company.

As ambassadors, they play a vital role and if they are not managed by a skilled manager, they can do irreparable harm to their employer.

And yet so many of these employers believe that two days training is enough. It isn’t, not by a long shot.

Managing people requires a skill set unlike any other. Trust me when I say that there are few ways of earning a higher return on training dollars than by ensuring that every manager in your organization is not just good at their job, but is exceptional.

People Don’t Leave Companies, They Leave Managers

In my company, we conduct hundreds of exit interviews every year and these serve to validate the maxim, “people don’t leave companies, they leave managers.”

Management should never be left to on-the-job training, it is too vital a role. Yet so many organizations fail to learn the lessons taught by placing untrained and unqualified people in positions of management.

I remember a senior executive once telling me of his reluctance to invest in the training of managers, “Once we have them trained, our competitors steal them from us.”

How’s this for perspective: the only thing worse than training people and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.

If people truly are the most valuable assets in organizations, then it cannot possibly make any sense to not do everything possible to ensure that those responsible for managing those assets are as skilled and qualified as possible.

Great companies cannot be built and sustained without great mangers.

Till we read again.

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