Here’s a sobering thought:
Gallup has found that one of the most important decisions companies make is simply whom they name manager. Yet our analysis suggests that they usually get it wrong. In fact, Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time. From: Why Good Managers Are So Rare
And if that wasn’t disheartening enough, while we know what are the qualities that make great managers…
- They motivate every single employee to take action and engage them with a compelling mission and vision.
- They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
- They create a culture of clear accountability.
- They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
- They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.
Gallup’s research reveals that about one in ten people possess all these necessary traits. While many people are endowed with some of them, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance.
Faced with these odds, it’s amazing that companies function at all. Of course we know that companies do function and succeed, so what’s the secret? There are two actually.
Mentoring and changing how managers are selected.
Make mentoring a part of business as usual
Based on the fact that while only 10% of people have all of the characteristics of a great manager, many people have some or most of them. To make a potentially good manager into a great one it takes mentoring from the people already doing a great job and helping people develop the skills they need. But that’s not enough. To have better managers, you first have to realize that how managers are chosen in the first place might be the biggest problem of all.
Not all great employees make great managers
There was a Dilbert cartoon from years ago where the best programmer in the department was promoted to manager. Since this is a cartoon the results, well, you can see for yourself (part one and part two).
As funny as this is, the reality is that the people who are your best employees might not make the best managers. Becoming a manager as a reward for excellent performance sounds like a great idea, but assumes that everyone who is great at their job will be great at helping other people do their jobs. When you have someone to reward for a great job, maybe a nice bonus and a raise is thanks enough. Just make sure that people are promoted to manager want to be a manager, not as the reward for performance.
And once someone is promoted to manager, that person is supported and mentored so all of their managing skills can come out and shine.