Let’s face it. Being a manager is a tough job. If you’ve watched (or re-watched) the American sitcom, “The Office”, you would have been severely agitated by Steve Carrell’s portrayal of Michael Scott, the Regional Manager for Dunder Mifflin Inc. As Scott navigates workplace dynamics with a skewed view of humour and desperately tries to be liked by all his colleagues, viewers find themselves rooting for the manager out of sheer pity. Yes, managers, even with the best management skills, may fall short and probably are trying to handle their teams the way they know best.
Management skills has its own challenges
On the surface, a manager’s role looks shiny, classy, and straightforward. But, it’s often over-glorified. It’s a leadership position that comes with challenges and burdens. A manager’s role isn’t just to oversee the everyday tasks of his juniors or direct reportees. Managers are expected to plan, strategise, direct, and control resources to reach organisational goals.
A lack of interdepartmental communication is one of the biggest challenges a manager must overcome to foster a healthy working environment within teams. For many, the art of effectively tackling and confronting performance problems takes work. It may take years of practice and admit to needing the right skill set. A good manager is fair and takes all the necessary steps to manage conflicts between team members without playing favourites. When conflicts are not resolved, it leads to dropping productivity levels.
During turbulent times, reportees look to managers for support, guidance, and the way forward. But the times are changing.
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The human element in managerial skills
There was a time when managers led teams with fear. The human element to jobs had yet to take precedence, and all employees and leaders had a largely transactional role. With evolving workplace dynamics, one might argue that managers led teams with fear to masquerade their insecurities and inconsistencies.
At the turn of the century, the workplace saw a quiet but distinct shift between manager and reportee relationships. With the digital revolution taking over our lives, employees saw greener pastures–ones that could potentially offer them good managers earnestly looking out for their well-being and professional growth.
As digital boundaries continue to blur giving birth to digital immigrants, it’s also creating a host of new employment opportunities. Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly aware of their rights in the workplace and won’t stand for intolerant behaviours from their manager, even if it may cost them their jobs. Although millennials have a bad rap for supposedly not being loyal to their jobs or feeling entitled, they can turn the tables around by holding their manager accountable. Having an empathetic approach to every situation, now, is one of the main qualities reportees look for in their managers. Only with empathy can one lead a team that is productive and thriving. Evoking fear in the generation that’s oiling businesses worldwide is no longer an option.
For Generation TikTok, even less.
5 common mistakes managers make
Although it seems like there’s a ready manual for how managers ought to behave, every situation, organisation, team, and even an individual don’t fall under a cookie-cutter format. It’s only natural that managers, especially those freshly stepping into leadership roles, are bound to make a few mistakes, but there’s always a way to fix them.
- Viewing employees as just that: In the daily hustle of managing teams, especially large ones, managers and leaders often forget that employees are human beings, capable of making mistakes and also of achieving extraordinary things. Managers must take a step back when dealing with employee problems and view team members as people who have a life outside of work. Understanding why an employee cannot perform can help a manager focus on finding solutions to help employees reach their full potential.
- Blending professional and personal boundaries: A word to the wise. Be friendly with your employees, not friends. Whether it’s a consequence of a smooth working relationship or shared mutual interests and personality similarities, a manager sometimes makes the mistake of becoming over-friendly with the employee. Doing so can make it difficult to separate professional and personal lives. It may also cause employees to disrespect the manager’s authority.
- Disregarding employee input: Varied perspectives, especially in diverse teams, can be a thing of beauty. In these differences of ideas, novel and outlandish solutions see the light of day. Managers often ignore employee input, making employees feel like they are not valuable in the company. Furthermore, employees will start second-guessing themselves and shy away from talking about their problems and solutions.
- Micromanaging: The big “M”. 57% of employees leave a company because they had a bad boss, states DDI’s Frontline Leader Project. It’s also why “quiet quitting” is all the rage. Micromanaging employees show alarming levels of mistrust and suspicion. To allow employees to flourish, managers must give them room for creative growth and a healthy degree of autonomy.
- Not providing concrete feedback: Reportees look up to managers for guidance every step of the way. If managers don’t keep an open line of communication and provide feedback, employees may not know whether they are on the path to progress or if there are areas they need to improve and work on. A crucial part of effective management communication and feedback enables professional (and sometimes even personal) growth and helps employees master the skill to succeed in the workplace.
Not everyone is fit to be a leader or has great management skills. Some are natural born, while others must acquire these skills to herald change in the organisation and lead teams and employees. But managers are often guilty of making mistakes that are easy to remedy. Managers must strike the perfect balance between a confidant in need and a leader that steers the ship to safe waters. Only then will employees feel valued, respected, and protected.
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