Taking a Stand for the Manager – Underdog of 2012?

The role of manager is a multi-talented one!

I have read so many negative reports about managers over the last few months that I felt I had to stand up and hurl in a different perspective. In the past few months, I’ve read quotes such as:

“three quarters of employers report a lack of leadership and management skills and too many managers have an inflated opinion of their ability to manage people”
“More than six out of ten people employed in customer facing sales and service roles say that their managers’ behaviour towards them [Negatively] affects the level of customer service they deliver.”
“Poor people management is at the root of much of the evil in our economy”
“Estimated cost of poor management in the UK is £19 Billion a year!”
What on earth is going on? If I were still a manager I think I’d be feeling pretty battered by now. So OK, we have a problem Houston. But what is the real problem?

For me, problem number one, is that although we all know the difference between leadership and management (Don’t we?) We employ managers and complain they don’t lead and then we define leadership with models which talk about competencies such as leading from the front, vision and courage and integrity… to name but a few. Attributes most managers can’t actually use because they have to deliver an already created and articulated vision, where the trail has already been blazed, and the values already decided.

We want managers to be people managers, but actually none of our outcomes or targets or values is about our people, so where do we expect them to focus? Ok, so I’m stretching a point, or two, but I do think that those points illustrate that at times, just sometimes, managers can’t win.

I’m not going to get into the leadership debate in this article; I’ll save that for another day. Today, I am going to concentrate on the sometimes thankless task of being a manager and why I think our good managers need a big and hearty pat on the back.

And just a final observation about the bad press managers get. With all the “poor” managers out there, I just have three questions. Who is recruiting them? Who is managing them? And who is letting poor managers get away with it to the extent that they have such a “negative” impact? Well, someone is!

There was an advert a few years ago that featured a mother wearing different hats. When her little girl cut her knee, she had the nurse cap on. When she was helping her son with his homework, she donned the mortarboard, and finally when cooking dinner she wore her chef’s hat.
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(I know, I’m probably showing my age) Well for me, managers are like mothers, to the extent that they have many roles and have to wear many hats.

In most organisations, managers are multi-faceted. They have to manage their people, their budget, their results locally and globally, the environment they work in, change management, training needs, absence, performance, initiatives, projects, the business plan, the people plan, stakeholders, partners, customers, reward, reviews, income, communications, processes, media, social responsibility, diversity… oh and of course the work. Need I go on?

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