In a recent conversation with a couple line associates, it came to my attention that many managers have no experience managing people. I commented about education and thought maybe they don’t teach management in college. The response I received was “they do in business school.”
Personally, I don’t have a business degree, but my very first college class was management. I have been managing people my entire career. One possibility is the proliferation of MBA graduates has caused the mindset you must have this degree to be a manager. Let me tell you here and now, managers exist in all industries! And most don’t have business degrees. Unfortunately, with or without a business degree there are many bad managers. I firmly believe management of people is an innate skill, either you have it or you don’t. People with marginal people skills can be coached. There is no dearth of management training books, seminars, or courses?
So why are there so many poor managers? There is a plethora of answers and I can not begin to cover them all. Here are just a few I’ve learned while consulting:
- Haphazardly promoted into management, because the associate was good in their previous position (Peter Principle, of course many managers didn’t learn it)
- Education credentials in their expertise, but without people skills
- Great sales people
- Age discrimination - the company wanted young managers
- Nepotism or favortism
How can this situation improve, as it is detrimental to productivity, company culture health and creates higher associate turnover?
- Like the 12 step program, the higher level managers must recognize the problem. To do this they must have an open-door policy or mechanism to hear from the lower ranks. The 360 program is a good tool for this.
- Upper level management must be in touch with operations and human resources
- Provide management training and feedback
- Be bold enough to make manager changes
- When hiring, look for management courses, experience or people skills on the résumé
- Recognize people management skills can come from any industry
If you’re a job seeker or looking to grow in your career, look for ways to develop your management skills. I learned many of my techniques from excellent senior managers. I picked what I saw was effective and ineffective ways to motivate people. The most effective tool, I’ve experienced, is a mentor. A mentor does not have to be within your company. Stay in touch with your mentor frequently to review observed and your own people management techniques.
Start the year off with new skills and knowledge.