How to be a Good Manager?
The yearly metric which was being used to measure the success of a manager, which a lot of organizations call “employee satisfaction scores”, were at an all time low. People were not coming to office and would call in sick very frequently. Low attendance was impacting the overall delivery and the team performance was getting impacted.
The amount of reprimands increased and except for a couple of people in the team who, as a result of the situation in the team had grown closer to the manager were the only ones who were putting in their 100%. In fact they were putting in their 110% in management terms. The rest were all showing a downward trend.
Attrition increased and this further added to the overall performance of the team. The skillset required for the team was niche and hence the learning curve of every new entrant in the team was high.
To compensate the low efficiency of the newbies in the team, the tenured ones had to put in more time and the team members who were getting the most taxed were the ones who were closer to the manager.
Gradually they started feeling used and got bogged down with work and eventually moved into other roles.
That’s the picture of a disastrous team.
In fact it is a vicious circle. What starts as a cut on the body slowly grows into a gangrene and the eventual remedy is to amputate the part. This is exactly how a good team could turn into a poor team and perish.
Where did it all start?
You guessed it right and so did everybody else. It is hence said that,
People don’t leave organizations. They leave managers.
He was frustrated as he walked into the pantry. He was one of the go-getters in the organization and a top individual contributor. Nobody even came close to him in individual performance. But the last year or, so was disastrous.
How to Be a Good Manager – A Genuine Question
I was sitting along with the org leader as he came and sat down alongside us.
“Boss, how to be a good Manager?”, he asked.
I felt like he had it was my question. A question that I was so desperate to ask but because I didn’t want to look like a “Bad Manager”, I was holding myself from asking.
The boss looked at me and then he turned towards him and smiled.
“What were you in your previous role?”, he asked.
“I was a part of the procurement team”, the manager replied.
“Great. Then go and become a team member again”, the boss said.
There was not one but 2 shocked faces there – me and the frustrated manager.
The manager looked inquisitively and a little shockingly at the boss as if asking what he meant. The boss smiled again and said, “Yes. Forget about how to be a good manager and go back to your team and become a good team member”.
We were still trying to understand what he meant.
The next few words from him were the biggest wisdom that the two of us got in our corporate lives. It was more than what any training could offer.
“The problem with most new managers is that they start to think that it is their responsibility to manage people and make them deliver by holding them accountable for their deliverables. They start to micro-manage things and start getting under the skin of their team members because they think they are the custodians of every individual in the team and that every individual is answerable to him”.
We were looking at him like 2 kids watching a horror movie.
He continued, “The culprit is the mindset. Every individual in the organization has the same responsibility. Everyone of us come to work because we know we are responsible for something and that responsibility, if discharged appropriately will earn me the paycheck at the end of the month”.
“Then do we really need to push somebody to do what he is supposed to do?”, he quipped.
“Not really”, he himself replied.
“Instead what we need to understand is that, the responsibility of a manager is to facilitate – facilitate things that your team members need in order to discharge their responsibility without a problem. And while you do that, if you find one of your team member losing sight of what his key deliverables are, just put your arms around his shoulder and guide him to the right direction”.
“And that is how you become a good Team Member”. As he finished speaking, he put his arms around the manager’s shoulder and said, “And when you do that, you will not be worried about becoming a good manager”.
He left the two of us there, still trying to get out of the aura that we were surrounded with in the 10 minutes that just ended.
As he walked into the bay towards his office, I looked at the manager’s face. He had just then realized the biggest mistake he did.
That 10 minutes of experience did what no grooming could have done, to two young managers.
And I asked myself, “Is it really relevant to ask how to be a good manager?”
The answer for anyone who still felt that this question was relevant, the answer was simple. “Go and be a part of your team. Be a team member and look at everything from their perspective. You will find simpler and better ways to help every individual in the team. And even before you realize that you are a manager, you will be labelled as a GOOD Manager”.
And Yes. Don’t forget to be transparent with your team!!