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Ken Keller: Why you might have the wrong manager on the payroll

Brain Food for Business Owners

Posted: March 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 18, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The company was growing rapidly, and the owner decided that a new sales manager was needed to take advantage of all of the opportunities that were surfacing.

The owner had an aversion to paying headhunters and employment agencies, and quickly reached the conclusion that the best choice was right in front of him. He decided to promote the most successful salesperson on his staff. She was resourceful, talented, goal-oriented and focused.

Yet in her new role, she failed miserably. Of course, the owner could not understand how he could be so wrong.

The skills of the technician and the skills of the manager are very different. Without clearly understanding, practicing and then executing what managers should do - any individual is almost certainly bound to stumble and fail in a management role.

The owner did not understand that technicians do not always make good managers, no matter how great of a technician they are.

Often, a person will be promoted into a management role simply because the person has the longest tenure. In this case, the employee has simply outlasted all those around her, and through default, has become the go-to person.

This individual may appear to know more than anyone else does. Having tenure and job knowledge does not mean having the skills, managerial knowledge, abilities and attitude to do what is required to be a good manager.

Sometimes, the individual who gets promoted is a disengaged employee. It is a certainty that a disengaged employee will never become successful at managing. Successful management requires a high level of engagement on a daily basis. Disengaged employees, regardless of title, are just that, disengaged.

Employees reporting to a disengaged manager do not receive formal feedback on performance. Expected results are unclear. In addition, probably most importantly, these employees do not feel cared for in their place of work, which directly relates back to the sense that their opinions do not count. A disengaged manager encourages disengaged employees.

Managers who do not invest the time to teach, coach and counsel their employees usually blame it on a lack of time or that the employees are not worthy of teaching, counseling or coaching.

This attitude - coupled with the manager not delegating because the employees cannot be trusted to handle challenging or difficult assignments - results in employees watching the clock until it is time for a break, lunch or time to leave.

The wrong manager avoids the task of disciplining employees. While discipline is the least-liked responsibility of management, sometimes it is necessary.

Some managers relate too closely to those that they work for, and see subordinates as friends, and therefore are unwilling to discipline even when it is warranted.

Managers fail because they have been given the responsibility to perform tasks, but were not given the associated authority. No manager can execute an assignment without the responsibility being equal to the authority.

Finally, managers fail to understand that they lead a team. There is no "I" in team, yet many managers believe that without their enlightened leadership, the team would fail.

The goal of any manager should be to create a team that can excel without them.

Successful managers empower those that work on their team with the time, tools, counseling, coaching, clear and measurable objectives, and the necessary discipline for everyone to succeed.

In the short term, it means more work. In the long term, it means more success.

The right managers will put forth the effort - short and long term. The wrong manager won't put forth any more effort than necessary to continue to collect a paycheck.

Ken Keller is CEO of STAR Business Consulting Inc., a company that works with companies interested in growing top line revenue. He can be reached at (661) 645-7086 or at Keller's column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.




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