There are two things we see happen frequently in small businesses that result in management problems. The first is giving someone the title of manager but not empowering them with the responsibility to actually manage. The second is giving someone both the title and responsibility but not educating them and supporting them in that role.
The first definition listed for manage in Merriam-Webster online is:
- to handle or direct with a degree of skill: such as
- to make and keep compliant
- to treat with care
- to exercise executive, administrative, and supervisory direction of.
Note the first line and the part about “with a degree of skill.” Not every manager already has the necessary skills—it’s something they should be taught as part of any management position. Failing to equip a manager with the necessary skills and empower them for the job sets a company up for failure. It creates opportunity for miscommunication and lack of consistency in following policies and procedures, which puts the company at risk and can lead to all sorts of issues. If left unchecked, it can sink a company.
In many companies, obtaining the title of manager is seen as a reward for longevity or another achievement, such as consistently meeting goals over time. But too many times, employees are promoted to a manager position with no training, no transition support, and no communication about how company policies should be enforced.
In some cases, a company may feel like they’ve empowered an employee in their new manager role, yet the employee may be terrified of telling someone else (especially a former peer) what to do. That employee may not be comfortable talking to people about being late or violating the dress code. In some cases, that new manager may not even be familiar with what company policy says about such situations.
When it comes to putting manage back in manager, it’s important for business owners to take a step back and look at their organization chart. Are each of your managers equipped to do both of their jobs—the day in and day out work required, as well as their management role to support the company culture and policy?
Also take some time to examine your process for training managers. When you promote an internal employee to a manager role, do you go through the policy handbook with them and discuss the process for dealing with policy violations? Or do you assume that the employee already knows the policies and feels equipped to enforce them? Do you discuss openly the company culture you want to create and the manager’s role in supporting that effort? Do you pair a new manager with a mentor or ensure another supervisor regularly checks in with them to address any questions or problems?
These are all things that can help put manage back in manager and strengthen your company, whether you are promoting from within or hiring someone new for the position. But they’re not things that just happen by default. It’s up to the company leadership to put manage back in manager by properly training and supporting the employees in that role.
If you’re struggling to empower your managers in their role, Why HR may be able to help. Contact us today to discuss in more detail, and check out the “Let’s Talk!” series listed on the events page—it’s designed for you and for them.