THE BLOG

How Not to Manage People

02/09/2015 04:17 EST | Updated 04/11/2015 05:59 EDT

Due to the growth of corporations on an international scale, the demand for management personnel has never been greater. Whether it is managing a multi-national project or a large internal team, corporations are pressing individuals into management roles at a greater pace than ever before.

While demand continues to grow, supply is still limited due to a number of factors, including:

1. Flattened Hierarchical Structures: Globally, corporate structures are becoming increasingly flat and lack the middle management layer that once existed. While eliminating middle management has improved the corporate bottom line, it has also removed an invaluable resource and training ground for future managers. Future managers no longer have the mentorship and guidance from middle management required to learn from past errors.

2. Immediate Need: Unfortunately, the speed with which the global economy moves and the increasing need for agility within organizations force many individuals into management duties merely as a result of them being the most qualified on the team. There is no longer a gradual ramp up to a management position. Rather, it is one where an individual is thrown into the deep end and told to "sink or swim".

3. Lack of Training Programs: As cost pressures continue to mount in today's hyper competitive economy, corporations are cutting back on in-house training. This means that individuals placed in management roles are left to their own devices in terms of acquiring the right management skills.

In today's economy, there are an increasing number of examples of how NOT to manage. Not only does bad management destroy employee morale and decreases productivity, it also has negative brand connotations from both a future employee perspective and through social media channels.

The following list is illustrative of some of the bone-headed behaviors of managers as they struggle to understand that their role is more than just pushing paper but one of a visionary leader who motivates processes and people. (It is by no means exhaustive):

1. Lacking Cultural Sensitivity: Today's managers have to manage in the 21st and not the 19th century. This means that managers are dealing with a diverse and multicultural workforce with varying needs and requirements. Today's diversity parameters are much more than just the standard ones of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation, but also include individual diversity. Whether it is a single mother taking care of two children or a son taking care of an ailing father with Alzheimer's disease, today's managers must deal with individuals as individuals, and not merely numbers.

2. Feeding Your Employees to the Wolves: One of the biggest failures of new managers is their inability to understand that they are not only responsible for their own personal career but also of the individual members of their team. For a manager, this means that they need to protect their team from unreasonable demands of both senior management and the client. An appropriate manager provides his or her team with the support and backup needed to ensure that there are no unreasonable demands made on them. Leaving individual team members to fend for themselves in the face of unreasonable requests makes one question the value of a manager as well as negatively impacting the team.

3. Being Reactive: One of the biggest challenges for new managers is overcoming the ingrained reactive persona that has been instilled by being an employee and becoming a proactive manager. In some respects, proactivity is ingrained in individuals with high management potential and it just needs to be reactivated. However, proactivity for today's manager is at a higher standard than in eras past. Proactivity no longer means being able to effectively see issues and circumventing said issues to ensure the successful conclusion of a project. In today's hyper competitive business environment it also entails envisioning where the team will need to be in three months, six months and 12 months as the business environment changes and forces a subsequent direct change in corporate strategy.

4. Not Effectively Listening: In the cacophony of today's hyper competitive business environment, it is too easy for messages and communications to get lost in the fray. All too often, new managers who, during their initial employment were individual contributors and had to fight for recognition, continue to adopt the aggressive active persona. What a team really needs from new managers is a change in persona from the aggressive active one to a persona that is based on truly listening to the team.

5. Lack of Forward Momentum: Today's business environment is so rapidly changing that business is no longer merely about pushing paper, but about progress for both the corporation and the individual employee. Today's corporations and their employees can no longer be content with just pushing paperwork. Forward momentum is required on everything that a corporation and its team do, and if a new manager can't provide this momentum then not only does morale suffer, the team's need becomes questionable as well.

6. Not Communicating: Whether it is the daily activities of the manager or the reasons that processes are setup and followed in a certain way, communication is now the primary goal of a new manager. A failure to communicate relevant and factual information to the team not only reduces morale, but productivity as well. Furthermore, it has the potential to increase dissension within the team as well.

The need for good managers has never been greater than before. With the number of corporations and startups now in the marketplace, combined with the complexity and diversity of both projects and personnel now in the business environment, good managers are critical. Knowing some of the behaviours to avoid will not only make new managers more successful, but will improve overall team productivity and morale as well.