No, this article isn’t going to be about what will happen to your company if something were to happen to you. This article is about what’s happening with your company NOW. More specifically, what’s happening with your managers and team members now – and what’s NOT happening with them – while you’re their leader. What are you teaching them to do and not to do?
What’s happening with your managers and team members now – and what’s NOT happening with them – while you’re their leader. What are you teaching them to do and not to do?
I’ve had several conversations recently with plant managers, association directors, business owners, and senior government officials. Every one of them has shared frustrations with managers who don’t know how or don’t effectively manage their own or their teams’ performance. Every client has said something along the lines of:
My managers can’t manage
– They just don’t step up and do their jobs
– No one seems to know how or wants to make a decision
– They just don’t think any deeper than just what’s in front of them
Then each asked for recommendations of books, training programs, coaching, and other aids they could consider as resources for their managers. Of course I’ve got lists of my own and others’ books and resources to share, but I’d rather you and they make some foundational changes first. Change the way you’re managing your managers and your teams first before you can realistically expect them to change how they manage.
Change the way you’re managing your managers and your teams first before you can realistically expect them to change how they manage.
So much of what I see causing skill gaps in managers are basic knowledge gaps. Some managers are new to their position. Some managers haven’t had years of experience in the industry, job, or in their professional careers yet. Some managers have not yet received effective training. Some have never been trained to receive objective feedback and learn from it. These knowledge gaps aren’t limited to younger managers. There are managers in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who haven’t learned these skills yet. Regardless of who failed them by not helping them gain these skills in the past is irrelevant. They’re your managers now. It’s up to you to help them be the best managers they can be.
Regardless of who failed them by not helping them gain these skills in the past is irrelevant. They’re your managers now. It’s up to you to help them be the best managers they can be.
So, where do you start? Start with how you’re managing them. When they come to you with a problem, what do you do? When they come to you with a question, what do you do? When they tell you there’s an issue with the widget enhancer, a customer, or the communications system, what do you do? If every time they come to you with a problem, question, or issue you solve it for them just to keep things moving quickly, what have you taught them? You’ve taught them through repetition that every time they have a problem, question, or issue to come to you. You’ve taught them not to think for themselves. You’ve taught them to delegate their problems, questions, and issues up to you. By trying to just get things done, you’ve trained them not to do their jobs.
You’ve taught them not to think for themselves… By trying to just get things done, you’ve trained them not to do their jobs.
To help you train your managers and team members how to think about their jobs a bit deeper, start asking them to think. It’s somewhat like training on the fly. The next time a manager brings you a problem, asks you a question, or wants you to make a decision that’s within their purview to make, stop. Don’t give them the answer. Instead ask them a question that’s going to cause them to rethink about you, your role, their role, and the issue at hand. Here’s the question:
“If I weren’t here, what would you do and doing nothing is not an option?” Then simply look at them with curiosity and wait.
The first few times you ask this question, you’ll get deer-in-the-headlights looks, ‘I don’t know’ answers, and a lot of stumbling around. You can follow up with, “No seriously, think about this and walk me through what you’d do” or you could try, “Let’s go look at the situation, but tell me what you’d do if I weren’t here with you. Let’s go but talk me through it as we walk over there.”
When you take this approach in managing issues your managers bring to you, what happens? You’ve triggered awareness in them that you believe they have the answer(s) and you expect them to think deeper and come up with a (hopefully) rational thought process. It gives you an opportunity to gain greater insight into what they do and don’t know and where legitimate training gaps lie. You start to create a culture where everyone will soon learn that you don’t expect perfection, but you do expect everyone to be thinking deeper about issues within their realm of responsibility and the potential solutions they’ve identified.
What has worked for you to help your managers learn to manage better and think deeper in real-time?
Copyright MMXXIII – Liz Weber, CMC, CSP – Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!