Why Do Managers Fail?
Getting the job is the easy bit – delivering regularly what is required is the hard bit!
A few managers do very well in their job and move on to bigger and better things: more responsibility, more resources to manage, better pay, greater recognition, the list goes on.
Most managers do enough to maintain their position, possibly enough to attract attention and move up the corporate ladder, getting more recognition/responsibility long the way if they are lucky. Either way they do enough to survive and possibly prosper, juggling with the pointers identified in this article.
Some managers never achieve either of the above two scenarios and fail at what they are trying to do. Many others cannot get past their current position and are resigned to their fate with very limited career mobility as they have failed in several critical performance areas outlined below.
So, what characterises management failure? What does it look like and what are its causes?
The following points should be examined in relation to how YOU are doing in your position and then perhaps modifying your approach and relationship with those around you.
- Guilt: do you spend too much time worrying about what you should be doing? If so, what are you just not actually getting on with this? This indicates that your effective time is tied up with things that are neither important nor urgent! Senior managers can smell and spot this happening a long way off – be warned!
- Not asking for help: we all need help at some point but some managers just do not want to ask for it as they consider it to be a sign of weakness. It is not – nobody will think bad of anyone who asks for assistance and this is far better that just bumbling along waiting for the crisis that you know is coming to finally land!
- Not helping others: the opposite of the point above! Management is a team game and alliances/collaborative working/team growth is a cornerstone of any successful organisation. If you are not involved in this then you will always be on the margins of what is important. People on the margins are not included in key activities and become exposed as a cost and not an asset!
- Avoiding making decisions: managers make decisions, it is part of the job! By avoiding them you single yourself out for criticism and the wrong type of attention from all around you. If you are unsure of what decision to make ask others, do your homework on the problem, look at similar decisions that have been made and work out a path. Remember to be able to justify the decision that you have made but, above all, do something positive rather than waiting for circumstances to control you!
- Lack of self-awareness: we never see ourselves the way in which others do so be very careful when considering your own performance and image. Keeping a healthy level of objectivity about your style, outputs and manners is critical in forging effective working relationships. The manager who considers themselves to be an excellent performer and who constantly tells anyone who will listen this fantasy is clearly going nowhere very quickly IF they cannot justify themselves!
- Avoid People Pleasing: management is all about getting the tasks done and while it is very nice to make decisions/plans that staff like, never fall into the trap of setting out on a path of action that you have designed simply because it suits your team or customer. You MUST be realistic! People Pleasing leads nowhere and often means that the real issues remain live and will come back to haunt you. In the longer term those around you will lose respect for your approach and will have little or no faith in your ability to deliver, especially in times of difficulty or uncertainty.
- Over-committing: promise to deliver what you can deliver! It is very tempting to promise the earth to impress people but this is quickly lost when reality comes around and you fall far short of what you said you would deliver. There is often no way back from this position having lost the respect and trust of your team, customers, colleagues and senior managers. It will be no surprise then that after this has happened you find yourself on the margins of activity or decision making; after all, why would people want to involve you in other projects or activities?
It is only by constantly, carefully and objectively, asking such questions will you get an insight into why you are not achieving what you want to achieve. Be honest, ask a trusted friend for their opinion but make sure that the questions get asked and you are honest enough to deal with the answers!
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