In a time when managers are so stressed about their own workloads and you often hear managers say things like “it is hard to get good staff” – take my advice – it isn’t. What’s more, if they have staff, chances are that they have excellent staff already, they just have to be managed properly.
At senior level there is a thought that if you are a good sales person, no – a great sales person you should aspire to being a sales manager. If you are an excellent accountant you should strive to become a finance manager and if you are a great credit controller you should look to become a credit manager. I don’t agree. The skill set you need to perform different functions are entirely different to the skill set required for management. I differ from most because I see management as a function in itself, and if I master the principles and application of being an excellent manager, then the technical ability I need reduces.
Some people think that a manager should know more than anyone else on their team, and this is where the big mistakes are made. You hire the technical expertise, I would much prefer to have people reporting to me who are far more qualified that I am. That way they get to do what they do best without fear of meddling from me, and I get to do what I do best which is manage the situation without getting sucked into the detail.
In most organisations, due to feelings of insecurity within the manager, they feel they have to employ weaker people, so they will look good to the boss in comparison. They get to show off to their staff on a regular basis how good they are at performing the tasks they have asked them to do but wait, is there not something wrong here? Why is the manager performing a task that they have asked a staff member to do? Why is the staff member not doing it? The job of the manager I have said before, is to get the job done so what are the alternatives to the manager doing the job?
1. Training – the manager should sit with the staff member and find out why they are having difficulty with the role. They should in a coaching style, go through the stages of the task in a way that is appropriate to the learning style of the staff member. If you don’t know what a learning style is maybe you should attend one of our training sessions yourself! If they are having difficulty grasping what has to be done, it could be that you are not explaining it in a way they understand. If this is the case then get an experienced member of staff, who has performed this role in the past, and very importantly, has performed the task to a standard you are happy with. Then you let that senior member of staff, train the other.
You might be amazed, a simple change in words or emphasis can change the results.
If all of the above fail, then it is possible you have the wrong person for the job, so as a manager you have to go back to the drawing board. Is there another position that this person can get to use their talents on a daily basis? If not, and this may sound cruel, and just to be clear I am not talking about just one task among many. I am talking about a person who is clearly unhappy, and performing at a poor level and fails to do what is required on an ongoing basis. Then it is time to let them seek an opportunity elsewhere. Of course you can help them define their ideal role and then help them find it – you have a responsibility to each of your staff members as long as they are working for you.
I think this is more honest and will be appreciated far better that what I have heard call “Performance manage” them out of the business. The atmosphere this second method creates is the most damaging of all.