Managers: Nurture or Nature

Photo Credit: Nik MacMillan @ Unsplash

Managers. Where do they come from? Are some born managers? Or do managers just stumble into their roles and start managing people? If you are a manager and have a few people under your wings, when did YOU become a manager? And more importantly, do your staff view you as a good manager?

I personally don’t think we can assume people should automatically know how to be a good manager and yet expect them to be good at it while not providing them the training or indicating what the standard of being a “Good Manager” means. It is a common blind-spot in many organisations that I’ve come to interact with. In all fairness, if there is no expressed expectations of what a good manager means, managers don’t have a clear standard to take reference from and when things go south, we can’t say its “common sense” and that the manager under-performed. So if your organisation don’t have an official “How to be a Manager” type training and yet expects managers to be awesome, I think its time to start asking for such trainings.

Having worked for more than 20 years and interacted in different industries, I’ve seen my fair share of hardworking managers who don’t know basics. No fault of theirs sometimes I feel because they were not taught how to be a manager. It’s a blind spot, we all don’t know what we don’t know.

So let them get the training that they need to excel in their role. If I had to put a training session together, these are the kind of topics that come to my mind:

  1. Being a Good Example: punctuality, respecting other people’s time, having high standards, being a positive individual in the organisation, being a collaborative individual.
  2. Leadership: Nurturing yet being firm, Inspiring and motivating, earning respect, getting the most out of individuals.
  3. Collaboration: Instilling a collaborative environment across teams. How to manage cliques. How to manage rumours.
  4. Delegating: How and when to and not to delegate.
  5. Communicating: Clarity, Effectiveness, Objectivity, Wisdom, when to have face-to-face, when to have email trails.
  6. Counselling: Making time, managing personal issues, career discussions, how to be a friend yet a boss.
  7. Training & Career Planning: Identifying gaps and up-skilling individuals. Knowing where to find resources to make the team better. Knowing how to plan for the team.
  8. Lull Periods: What to do when team is having a lull period? Always-on side pet projects? How to always bring value to clients and the organisation.
  9. Discipline: When and how to scold people, when to give warning letter, when to get HR involved?
  10. Firing: How and when to fire, how to manage exits.

Some people read books to learn stuff like that at a personal level because they desire to be better managers, some others might not even be aware they are not a good manager and are unaware how bad they are.

We all need to make sure we have a strong / dependable / wise / exemplary tier of managers. If they are not, then they should not be a manger and we should not entrust any staff under their care as they would be jeopardising the career of the juniors. Further more, if managers don’t do their roles well, most of the time a mess will be created and the senior management level folks will have to be catapulted into the eye of the storm to sort-things-out when they should be spending their time charting the organisation’s way forward and bringing value to clients.

If you agree that before someone is made a manager and they should have some form of training to be a manager, then here are a few options:

  • Send for external courses – There are many such courses and also online courses.
  • Create an internal course – There is already alot of such materials online, so curate them and create a training module.
  • Compulsory Reading – Insist managers read a specific book and after that discuss with their immediate superior to show understanding of that material.

Its not too expensive or too time consuming for managers to get trained, but I know for sure its alot more expensive and time consuming if we don’t.

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