The Curse of the Effective Manager

God help you if your manager doesn’t have your back.

For those familiar with the works of Bob Sutton (Good Boss, Bad Boss, The No Asshole Rule), or the works of Gary Hamel (The Future of Management, What Matters Now) or Daniel Goleman ( Emotional Intelligence, Primal Leadership), you will be acutely aware of how commonplace many destructive and outmoded management practices prevail today. And probably the most disturbing matter for many employees is the lack of support and the absence of a real interest manager’s show toward their employees. Unfortunately, this type of neglect is often coupled with much darker practices such as dishonesty in daily interactions, unfair appraisals and reviews, taking credit for employees work/failing to recognize their work, micro-managing, deliberately mistreating employees to ‘keep employees in their place’. I am uncertain if I’m numb or shocked at the attitude and comments I hear from management when speaking of their employees. Based on numerous worldwide engagement surveys, the hundreds of books I have read on organizations and 22 years of experience, leave me thoroughly convinced that that the chasm between managers and employees is not an isolated problem. The primary source of the divide is how people are continually mismanaged and the lack of humanity on the part of managers to engage with their employees. Unlike Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University and U.S. men’s national basketball team coach, who by asking questions moves the focus away from him and toward his team members, and gets three immediate benefits; he conveys respect, he builds trust, and he gets information”. Wow! If you could move one manager one inch closer to this type of enlightened action…

The Curse of the Effective Manager

There are literally hundreds of business book titles on the virtues of good management and leadership skills. Many of these books articulate the perils and misfortunes of those who engage in poor management styles and the subsequent effect on the poor souls who are mismanaged by those who use worn out ineffective techniques. What I have failed to read and will attempt to highlight in the next few paragraphs are the very challenging realities of implementing many of the best ideas from our business professors and leaders of some of the most successful corporation. If I could paraphrase the warnings on some television shows…don’t try this at your office…unless you are prepared for the following.

You will draw the kind of attention to yourself that you don’t want.

Not everyone is in love with the idea of the change agent. As we know, change is difficult and uncomfortable for many, so it is to be expected that the changes you advocate to be an effective manager will most certainly upset someone’s applecart. The pushback, second guessing or blatant refusal to accept what you are proposing is a reality that cannot be avoided. So when there is an attempt to lead change, some people often have a negative reaction to those leaders. In discussing this topic with Joanne (not her real name)  she remarked, ‘And when you are implementing change you “are” met with suspicion or resisted, this is an excellent sign. It means you are “really” touching, if not impacting belief systems…otherwise no one would care. Joanne is leading a corporate revolution worldwide about how work gets done and measured and is probably the most qualified to speak on this topic. She would agree with me that it is unfortunate that only a few leaders have an appetite for changing belief systems, even though they know their organizations are far from effective. To further support my position as to the external opposition you will experience when you identify the need for change, Jane Smith (not her real name) states that “leaders who attempt to implement change are often ignored or met with suspicion, so they give up before they are able to achieve the (better) future state.

In my own experience I continue to find it difficult to get the attention of those who should be most interested in building organizations which are truly effective. The keepers of the status quo continue to demand the attention of a rapidly growing disinterested workforce, not because anyone cares about the status quo, but they simply find it easier to do what they are told (order-takers). That way they do not have to deal with the ‘unwanted’ attention received by those who want to do much more than simply what they are told (engaged employees).

People Strategies – People at the Strategic Center

The business unit needs to assume a greater strategic role in managing the people process. Talent – the people of the organization are the most important strategic resource for future success. How people are managed or mismanaged is the enormous challenge facing leaders, and ultimately will determine the type of culture the organization will adopt.

The people management role cannot be relegated to a second-class activity. Leaders must elevate the role of people management to be the most important task because in the end, the business bets on people, not strategies. If culture change and business concept innovation is possible, then several key management fundamentals must be learned and demonstrated.