Why Managers Don’t Manage, Part Two

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We’ve observed that there are three major reasons why managers don’t manage.

  1. They’re uncomfortable in their role.
  2. They lack confidence in their skills.
  3. They simply don’t know what to do.

We looked at the first reason in last week’s blog. Now we’ll consider the second reason.

Some managers avoid making the difficult decisions because they are afraid of making a mistake. They lack confidence in their ability to assess a situation and determine the best way to respond. Or they take action and then second guess their decisions. Very often, these managers operate in a vacuum, without sufficient access to or support from other managers.

How can you tell that a manager lacks confidence?

  1. They come to human resources to discuss every employee situation.
  2. They back down from their suggestions at the first sense that they lack support from their peers or upper management.
  3. They get very stressed over decisions they need to make.
  4. They do not initiate any changes in their staffing or operating procedures.
  5. They hide their lack of confidence behind bluster, bragging and blaming others for inadequacies.

When managers lack confidence, their employees know it and may try to take advantage of it by manipulating or misrepresenting facts or issues. As a result, their employees are essentially in the driver’s seat. Then it becomes very difficult for the manager to manage daily activities, implement change or impose discipline. Managers may hide their shortcomings by refusing to accept responsibility for their actions or inactions.

A case in point occurred when a bank changed its software. The bank branches started losing member deposits. The branch managers literally could not locate where the deposits had been directed. Managers in the central office blamed the branch managers for their incompetence. It wasn’t until we brought all of the managers together that they were able to remember that they shared the same goal: to serve the members. Once the fault-finding ended, the central managers were able to admit that they had not properly trained the branch managers in how the new software worked.

You can build your managers’ confidence by providing mentors drawn from the more seasoned and experienced managers. The mentors can help the new managers understand the company culture and upper management’s expectations. The mentors can also share their experiences, including their mistakes, to encourage and support the new managers.

Another option is to establish meeting times for managers from throughout the company to get to know each other and establish relationships that will provide mutual support and encouragement. Once those relationships are established, managers will be able to use their peers as sounding boards for decisions or initiatives they are planning

We’ll look at the third reason in our next blog.

In Reflection,

Deb Laurel

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