Why companies are plagued with unskilled managers

An unhappy employee can, 9 out of 10 times, be linked to a bad manager.  And companies are rife with bad managers.  It’s most certainly not a new phenomenon – but when will the cycle of employing managers who are not actually skilled in managing people end?

Take for instance many large corporate companies.  A rising salesperson or a specialist excelling in his/her field is suddenly deemed worthy management material and promoted to a middle or senior management role managing a team or division of employees.  It seems the next logical career advancement right?  What we should rather call it is a calculated risk.  Sometimes it works out ok, but more often than not, the person is just not equipped to lead other people.

Managing and leading people is a full-time job

There’s a distinction between the two:  managing, and leading.  The famous saying, “Leaders are born, not made”, still stands true.  A person who takes up a management role should ideally have natural leadership qualities;  and even with natural leadership abilities, these skills still need to fine-tuned and developed further.

bad-managerVery few companies seem to evaluate a potential manager’s leadership and people skills before actually appointing them in that coveted management role.  Just because a rising star in a company is good at what he/she does, doesn’t make them a good candidate for management.  Instead, if not evaluated corrected, that person finds themselves in a job bogged down with a never-ending cycle of people duties – mediating, collaborating, motivating, managing performance and competencies etc. – with little time to focus on their core strength.

My former manager is a great example of what I’m referring to.  He was an expert in his field and damn good!  He should have been given the opportunity to grow in that specialised field.  What transpired instead was that he was promoted as manager of a division of people.  Without any natural leadership abilities, limited skills evaluation or managerial training, he took on the task.  As a result, under his management (or lack thereof), communication without the division suffered, the division’s strategic direction remained unknown, and ultimately motivation and general productivity in the division decreased.  He didn’t know how to manage different personality profiles and how to get the very best out of each person.

Again, it’s not a new story for many companies.  Bad managers negatively impact the moral of the people working underneath them, which impedes creativity,  initiative, personal growth and ultimately the overall success of the division.  Bad managers lose valuable and experienced personnel because they simply don’t have leadership skills.

Can the cycle end?

Yes it can, but “will it?” is the question we should rather be asking.

Internal company politics unfortunately play a large role.  The choice to appoint a management candidate who is promoted from within can be riddled with political undercurrents.

It’s a continuous battle.  Perhaps the only way to turn a bad situation into a slightly better one is to train and mentor that manager.  He/she may not be the perfect manager with the inborn leadership abilities needed, but maybe the damage that manager can do will be curtailed if whatever his/her leadership and managerial competencies are, are at least improved and developed.

A manager without a cooking clue how to actually manage his/her staff can at least be taught valuable and correct management techniques, and additionally be given much-needed people management support before he/she learns unbreakable bad management habits.  He/she will never be the idyllic inspirational leader, but it’s better than having a “bad manager” at the helm.


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4 thoughts on “Why companies are plagued with unskilled managers

  1. niels December 3, 2013 at 12:48 Reply

    Hear-Hear! – This is the most amazing article I have seen on the topic – it seems the writer has a true understanding of the underlying problems in his area of Personnel expertees with this subject matter. Most people do not understand the philosophy behind this or the unspoken & hidden knowledge that Managers need to fully understand the outcomes of their immediate reactions (reactive or attentive) to company employees and other issues when dealing with people in difficult or crisis situations. In dealing with internally sensative scenario’s – if they take the incorrect approach – an employee can become a ticking time bomb…

    Very nicely written, with the writer having a notably deep insight into this subject.



  2. LFFL March 25, 2014 at 11:47 Reply

    LOL! I just LOVE that quote! How true that is. Too funny.


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