Do You Have the Right Managers in Place? - American Society of Employers - Anonym

Do You Have the Right Managers in Place?

Organizations are beginning to invest in management development again, recognizing it is a “force-multiplier” for employee engagement and organizational productivity. At the same time, many organizations hesitate to make that investment because they are not yet sure they have the right people in management roles.

Let’s take a step back to consider how HR might help managers determine for themselves whether they are right for management or not. If you can help them ask the right questions, they may opt in/out on their own, and you would not have to reselect. A recent post in The Daily Museby career consultant Jennifer Winter asks the question, “Should You Become a Manager?” She contends that to get that answer you should ask yourself four questions, paraphrased below:

  • Can you tolerate many meetings?
  • Do you like to teach or coach?
  • Can you be comfortable with conflict?
  • Can you play the role of bad guy?

Let’s take these in order. First, no one has “attending many company meetings” on their bucket list. That’s why Dilbert has such a ready audience when it lampoons meetings. All of us have been through our share of dreary and needlessly long meetings that yield little practical value. However, it is important for managers to see the opportunities and optimize the value of meetings. Meetings provide venues for managers to learn what is happening in their organizations, contribute to the thinking and to represent the interests of their teams. Managers may choose to “check out” of meetings because they deem themselves too smart or too busy to participate. But this choice may disadvantage their teams and their organizations. Good managers collaborate with their peers, act as good corporate citizens and contribute to the greater good.

Second—and this one may be the most important of the four questions—managers have to get outside themselves and think about how to develop others by teaching. ASE has the privilege of interacting with hundreds of managers annually in our manager development sessions. It is clear that the good ones think this way whether they define themselves as teachers or not. They talk about helping their colleagues get better and in many cases participate in learning events so they can help their employees. In fact, the central question managers might ask themselves is, “Do I get greater satisfaction from my work product as a thought leader, or from seeing others develop with my help?” Unfortunately, many organizations promoted individual contributors into managers so they could raise their salaries. Their mindsets when it comes to developing others should always be considered first.

Third, it is important to appreciate that constructive conflict has value, because it surfaces different perspectives and thus can contribute to better outcomes. However, it is important to distinguish constructive from destructive conflict, so the former can be encouraged and managed and the latter discouraged and minimized. Management is typically not a good fit for those who want to hide when conflict arises.

Finally, it is important for managers to know and appreciate that there are times they will need to be bad cops with colleagues, some of whom used to be their peers. Managers who have an overriding need to be liked may struggle with being bearers of bad news. Often enough they abdicate their responsibility by blaming the organization and siding with their teams. Unfortunately, this is unhealthy for them as leaders and for their teams because it will jaundice employee perceptions of the organization. On the other hand, those who find it too easy to be the “bad guy” many not be good managers either.  This is about getting outside their comfort zones to become better at dealing with tough people situations. Preparing for those difficult conversations and talking through approaches ahead of time with trusted peers can help significantly.

Many companies are at the proverbial crossroads as we ascend from the economic ditch that struck in 2008. The organizations that build strong management will have a distinct advantage in enhancing culture and growing their organizations. But many of them made necessary battlefield promotions during the tough times, and now they need to reassess those promotions to make sure they have the right management in place to get the organization to the next level.

There are instruments and tools that can help with these assessments if you want to invest in a systematic and validated approach to assessing your managers. Regardless, it is important for HR managers and business managers to educate employees on manager role requirements and ask probing questions. Done right, these dialogues will yield helpful insights for potential and current managers.

Source: Forbes 10/17/14

For more information about leadership development services that ASE can provide, please contact Ed Holinski at


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