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Don't want a bad manager? Here's how to avoid it
A recent UK study showed that 48% of employees would be willing to accept a reduced paycheck if they were given the chance to change their manager. Considering that bad managers are the number one reason people quit their jobs it’s imperative that companies seek to stem the flow of workers leaving for a reason that has been addressed in numerous ways such as increased communication and clarity around expectations.
Henry Stewart, founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happy recently addressed this issue by suggesting that a happier workplace could be had if employees were given the opportunity to choose their manager. Let’s imagine then, that this was possible in the average office. Here are some ways this scenario could play out.
Interviewing your future boss
When managers are hired and brought into an existing team, it’s expected that they all get along and make the most of the new dynamic. Plenty has been written about how best to make this happen, from building effective teams to figuring out the team’s personality and yet, how often are those interviewing the new manager actually a part of the team the new hire will be managing?
Here’s how it frequently happens: The head of the department interviews a select number of individuals for the role of manager, after which the interviewee gets the chance to meet with others even higher up the food chain before the decision is finally made on their ability to carry out the role. Meanwhile, the staff this new hire will be managing get to find out who they are via an email sent by the aforementioned head, subsequently leading to a frantic search on LinkedIn or Google to find out more about whether this person will, in fact, be able to lead the team.
What if the team members were able to provide input at the interview stage? This input could be as unobtrusive as providing a list of 3-5 questions that the interviewer poses to help create a better picture of their management abilities as far as the team is concerned. Or it could be a member of the team representing the others at the interview stage and ascertaining on their behalf, whether the potential candidate would help or hinder the team’s current dynamic insightful questions.
Here’s another suggestion. What if the new manager, as part of his interview, was given the opportunity to work with his potential team for a day? You’ be surprised how much you could get to know about a person and the way they interact, communicate and solves problems in a short period of time. Create an agenda for the day, solve a particular problem or simulate a demanding day and see what response you get.
What if you’re the newbie?
If you’ve just taken on a new role only to realise, a few months down the line, that your manager is someone you simply cannot work with, do you have any options then, other than the obvious?
In his article, Stewart gives the example of Cougar, a software development company, whose reassessment of their promotion procedures led to a new track for those that had no desire nor perhaps ability, to lead a team.
He notes that “you will see people, sometimes in very senior positions, who are extremely skilled in their core jobs but for whom managing people…is not something they are great at.”
As an employee being managed by someone like that, what options would you have available? Here are a few worth considering:
- Propose that you be managed not by a single person but as part of a self-directed team.
- Seek out someone in your organisation that you could develop a mentoring relationship with, who could take on some aspects of your management such as reviews and development of career pathways.
- Propose a two-way review system so that it’s not simply your manager giving you feedback on your work; you can also provide insights into the way they manage in a constructive way, that would enable both of you to improve your working relationship.
- Look at switching to another team whose manager you would be willing to work with.
- If all else fails, and you feel leaving is your only course of action, use your exit interview as an opportunity to discuss possible solutions to the problem of ineffective management.
While there isn’t a clear quantifiable cost to making the wrong hire, the link between ineffective managers and a business’ bottom line cannot be understated, not to mention lowered productivity levels for team members. With a lack of productivity and motivation accounting for costs in excess of $28 billion per year, it’s a topic that strikes at the heart of every business.
Reviewing how managers are hired might be a good place to start, in order to stave off any potential team friction.
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