The word manager has a wide variety of interpretations depending on context, whom you ask and the title in which it appears, although as a rule, the role usually includes a level of responsibility. This is why managers must be trained to manage, as Mark Dickinson of DONE! Hospitality Training Solutions explains
The problem lies not in the word, for that is simple to define:
Manager – Noun – class of people that manage
Manage – Verb – doing something to control and organize
The problem with the word manager is that it does not have magical powers. The title is assigned to a position in an organization structure, and then a role is clearly defined, with the responsibilities laid out accordingly. Then a person is appointed to the position of manager and they begin to do their work. Because they hold the title of manager, it is expected that they will then manage the business role to which they have been appointed.
When things go wrong
When a person is appointed to a position with the title manager, but has little experience or a low skill level in managing, things may go horribly wrong, and it can be hard to detect for quite some time.
Managers have authority over those that they manage and there will always be a degree of respect for the title and a fear of the person with authority. If that manager does things wrong, it may take a while for this to be discovered and many managers are able to conceal their inadequacies by using their authority and leveraging fear. The challenge is that the title does not make the person capable. Here we invoke The Peter Principle.
“The Peter Principle is an observation that the tendency in most organizational hierarchies, such as that of a corporation, is for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach the levels of their respective incompetence.” In effect what this means is that many managers are totally incompetent; they have been promoted because of past achievements at lower levels in an organization, but have now reached a level where they are unfamiliar with the needs and responsibilities of their new position. The title manager does not confer upon them the ability to do what their title suggests.
9 Warning signs
Incompetent managers will most certainly be good at some things and have probably earned a level of trust from their seniors that at some previous time determined them to be worthy of greater responsibility. The challenge is that frequently, managers have not been prepared for their new responsibility and are left to get on with things in their own way. When problems occur within the area of their work, instead of revealing their weakness in the issue at hand and seeking help, they will resort to strategies that are detrimental to the organization.
Frequently these will include:
1. Blame: Make others look responsible for the mistake
2. Cover up: Provide the first reason that comes to mind for why a problem has occurred, ensuring that it is not seen as their error that has caused a problem
3. Paralysis: Freeze. Unsure of how to solve the problem they do nothing and hope that the problem will just dissolve
4. Talk a lot: Make a lot of noise and draw attention away from the original problem
5. Distract: Explain how much work they have to do and switch the topic to other issues that require their immediate attention
6. Justify: Take it personally and explain the causes of the problem that have nothing to do with their performance
7. Hide: Become very busy doing something ‘important’ so that there is no time to get to the cause of the problem and solve it
8. Instant answers: Share the first idea that comes into their head as to why a problem has occurred, but not give a solution
9. Band Aids: Apply a very short-term solution to solving the immediate issue
These warning signs are the all-important indicators that managers need to be trained on how to manage. Here, however, is where the plot thickens; their managers may be victims of The Peter Principle too, and may not have the skills to recognize that the manager requires training, and they, too, are rarely equipped with the skills to be able to train the manager in question. The management issue becomes compounded.
The ultimate solution
The ultimate solution is to create customized management training programs that are comprehensive and ongoing. Constant development and investment in people are the keys to great management. Some resist this process. It was famously said, “What if we train our managers and they leave?” To which the reply was, “What if we don’t and they stay?” Some have taken a stand along the lines of: “We only employ good managers so we don’t need to train them, they already know how to manage.” This is very short-sighted. The best businesses recognize that their human capital is the most valuable asset that their company has, and they act accordingly.
Saving money by not investing in management training is to perpetuate the constant distraction to progress caused by the repetitive demands of fighting fires. While successfully solving operational problems may give a false sense of achievement, it is unproductive and creates frustration and results in mediocrity.
If you don’t train, you cannot blame! You must first train your managers to manage, and then hold them accountable.