I’ve had about ten bosses over the years and I can only think of one good one. Granted, I might be quite hard to manage, but although I’m opinionated and disobedient I’m also happy to work hard and keen to make a difference. No, it was definitely THEIR fault….
And whenever someone in a lift asks me what I do, I usually say “I teach bosses to be better bosses” – and I ALWAYS get the reply: “Could you help sort out mine??”
So here’s my take on why many bosses aren’t very good:
1 – It’s difficult! You can’t be friends with the team, and this is particularly difficult if you are being promoted from within so you’re having to leave your friends behind. It’s also difficult because you need to vary your style, but most people have a natural style, which can’t work for every person and every situation. And it’s difficult because it requires long term thinking rather than reacting to situations, and reacting is human nature’s default setting.
2 – Most bosses aren’t trained. It’s one of the few jobs where there is an assumption that people can make it up as they go along, perhaps copy their boss a bit, and get away with it. There are almost no qualifications for management (MBA? Chartered Manager? Business Studies Degree? DMS? These all have their weaknesses but are of course better than nothing) and very few bosses have any of these. The average UK manger gets half a day a year of training, which is SO much less than nurses, firefighters, lawyers, chefs, engineers, you name it.
3 – Sometimes, for various reasons (survival of the toughest, politics, the need for testosterone) in some organisations management attracts bastards, and the ones who are the biggest bastards do best, thus setting a role model for the next generation of managers. Nice people, or subtle people, believe it’s not even worth applying because they won’t be suited to the job. (I think it gradually changing for the better, but we’re not there yet).
4 – The wrong people get promoted, for example the best engineer or the best sales person gets promoted into management of the team even though it’s a completely different skill set, and it’s unlikely – verging on impossible – that a person will have both.
Can we get any good news from this depressing list? Yes we can – we can realise that training is the answer to the first two parts, and proper recruitment/selection is the answer to the second two parts. It CAN be done. And an organisation with great managers will have a huge edge on the competition who are statistically likely to have poor managers.
Meanwhile I do hope you’re lucky enough to have one of those rare good bosses…
And if you’re not one of the lucky few, I hope one of these courses will help a bit…….