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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Are Your Managers Actually Managing?

I do a lot of leadership development with groups and individuals - and there is no doubt that I love it.

However, just lately, I find myself questioning whether we have somehow neglected the development of some of the basic management disciplines - and then expected a kind of leadership silver bullet to solve it?

Let me be frank - the trigger for some of this realisation is because I am launching a new management qualification programme for hospitality and tourism to market - and am feeling more than a tad passionate about it.

Through developing it, piloting it and running it with considerable success and positive results, I have fallen back in love with my version of "the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Hospitality Managers" and wondering why I haven't been supporting their cause before now.

Let me give you an example...

Very recently I was asked to coach a talented young man who holds a management position in another industry entirely (and one that I know very little about).

On first meeting him, his technical knowledge of their core business was very impressive.  What he didn't know about their manufacturing, production and technology processes was not worth knowing and so, based on that superior knowledge, he had been promoted into the ranks and realms of management.

And then the trouble started...

A couple of tricky team members and a bit of ganging up, a couple of customer handling errors, a new bit of machinery that wasn't providing sufficient ROI and a bit of a GP margin / ratio dip and hey-presto - we are into some seriously deep water of drowning proportions.

Enter THE COACH (with pants on over trousers and a big S on the front) with a brief from my client to identify what leadership training might be of benefit.

I basically sat and listened (like you do) for quite a long time, while he unknowingly gave me a crystal clear picture of  what he described as "a hole" that he had dug himself into (and then had other people chucking a few shovelfuls of dirt in on top of him to ensure that he had no chance of escaping).

With him in that hole were:

  • A general lack of organisation in the form of any sort of process or capacity management 
  • An overload of micro management and focus on the detail - and no delegation 
  • No visible strategy for sales or pipeline management
  • No clarity of customer and stakeholder management principles - (other than under-pricing and giving stuff away to keep them happy!)
  • No understanding of the basic relationships between sales, cost of sales, margin and a big fat GP, or any way of using financial data.
  • No understanding of how to set targets and objectives and manage people through them
  • No understanding of how to performance manage people - and consequently no confidence to do it either
  • No time to think about any of  it as he was just so darn busy fire fighting the whole time 
oh ...and he had a lovely new baby gurgling away at home, so the sleep stakes were pretty skinny too.


In my opinion, if you want to really help that guy and get his department performing and making money, then help him build a ladder - or a full scaffolding framework - for himself and support him while he manages himself out of that hole.

And forget - completely - about training in leadership behaviours for a while.

Don't waste your money and don't waste his time - because like a rare cloud in the morning at the moment, it will evaporate the minute there is the slightest heat.

First, he needs a structured set of management processes and skills to help him actually MANAGE.

He needs help to get organised, form a strategy, understand how teams form and how to motivate and direct them, plan some objectives, learn how to delegate and manage his time, understand the fundamentals of how the beans get counted and grow a pair with regard to managing performance - for immediate and urgent starters.

If he was working in Hospitality, I'd put him straight onto our foundation Diploma programme and start with the management basics.

How many of your managers could do with learning the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Hospitality Managers" and the basic fundamentals of management?

Oh - and in case you are wondering, even the fact that they have a business degree isn't a remedy.

So did my friend above - but it was a long time ago - and he was a student then, it was all so easy in theory!

www.merlin-consultancy.com