In my first article, I talked about qualities being a Manager and as I was penning down the article, inspiration came to me that I must find time to write about this as well.
In more than 10 years of managing people, I have seen some folks who used to be extremely good star player reducing to worst manager in our department or turning into worst person in the company. People who used to support and gravitate him or her now turned their backs prefer to walk another route if it means avoid walking pass the person’s desk.
That is sad, extremely sad. Let me share some of the stories here:
She was a personal favourite of mine in a company I used to be her manager. She is sweet, caring and thoughtful, always putting others in front her needs. I remembered that we are having a particular busy day with customers due to an outage of services in the morning, she stayed behind together with a few others to clear all the complains that kept pouring in. When the day finally ends, she collected everyone’s reports so that everyone could go home. She and myself worked for another one hour to combine the numbers for our analysts to work on the next day. There are numerous examples like that.
Personally, I groomed her and some others for leadership. She is one of the few who partake in taking care of the team when I am away on leave. Naturally, when there was a manager position opened after someone left, management thought of her. She was promoted fairly quickly and another of my peers was tasked to mentor her for a few weeks until she get her feet on the ground.
The changes are subtle enough but everyone saw the switch significantly. First, she bit the hand that fed her. When the first management report by her was full of mistakes, she strongly hinted that it was the mentor who taught her the methods. Then she began to isolate herself from her earlier team mates, citing that they did not give her the respect as a manager and they still treat her as an equal.
Later on, she began to spread nasty rumors around about all the other managers to upper management, causing them to open up an internal investigation. Things went sour after that and management had to transfer her out of the department after a stern warning.
She couldn’t cope with the warning and new department, seeking help from me. There was little I could do since she insisted that everything she does was for her team and she did nothing wrong. Two months into her new department, she threw in her resignation letter.
He came to our company full of experiences that he brought from his earlier role as a Senior Area Manager. As his company was a smaller firm, my boss wanted him to have enough experience from the floor downwards before promoting him. There was also no position open for a managerial role.
At first, he was fantastic, bringing in innovative ideas and super helpful. His performance exceeds everyone else’s and he is always the first to arrive and the last to leave. He was the Santa Claus for our Christmas party. 6 months into the company, a position was opened up for him to lead an existing team in a technical position.
A few weeks into the role, he wanted to show to our bosses that we are right to hire him, he began to implement new process and ways that his team resisted. His team had the few most senior employees in the company and one of them was even a pioneer when the company first started. They advised him that his new processes will not work and suggested different methods instead. He did not take in their well-meaning advice and thought they were too integrated in their current position to seek for improvement. He went ahead with the plan.
Upper management was pleased in his proposal as he promised unrealistic numbers. Confidently, he executed the plan. However, his new plan stalled many other processes in other departments, customer service teams was confused and not able to serve customers as planned, sales teams required a longer lead time to close their deals and business analysts couldn’t produce their weekly presentation because they were not briefed on the changes.
All these led to customers calling and writing in to complain on our service level. Throughout this period, every departmental managers and their representatives tried to reason with him and held numerous meetings but he refused to listen, kept insisting that we were just jealous of him. Although his results went up, all the rest of the departments performance dipped drastically.
Soon enough, upper management was informed of the mess we are in and stopped the new procedures. As all the managers cleaned up the mess he created, he happily announced that he is being poached by our competitors and was leaving end of the month. Thank goodness for that!!
There are more similar stories but you get the idea. When you are promoted, whether its a managerial position, it’s prudent that you remember the hands that support you in the beginning.
For those two above and like many others, they are overwhelmed with the sudden position that comes with greater responsibilities and power. They may want to prove their worth in the eyes of the management and they may not know where they stand in the department hierarchy. If they are first time managers, they may be lost at what their roles entails and can only guess, most of them will not admit all of the above for fear of ridicule or putting down their ego especially in an Asian context.
This is where companies and management should step in to have firm programs in place to mentor the new managers. If we can have orientation program for new comers to ease them into the company’s culture and their roles, then we even need more structured programs to guide the new managers. Teach them how to manage their time, how to manage stress, to manage management expectations, to balance their emotions, to network around their peers and management.
Below are the list of some of the courses titles I have run during my time as a mentor for new managers with or without people reporting to them:
– Rewards & Recognition
– Time Management
– Bring your networking skills to a notch
– Presentation Skills
– Stress in a new role
– Managing your team
– Managing your peers
– Managing your boss’s expectations
– Resolving Conflict
– Give and take feedback
– Listening Skills
– Heighten your Observation
Many of those that I have mentored found the courses useful and these courses gave them a forum to voice their fears and worries without afraid of mockery. Such preparation courses are important that they not only give knowledge and directions, they also give a sense of confidence, allowing new managers to feel empowered to lead a team or complete a task successfully.
If you feel the same way, let your company know don’t stop grooming talent only at the bottom, the middle management like us need constant guidance as well.
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