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Managing the Manager

The word “manage” basically means to handle. It could be the handling of anything, but in the case of business it generally means people. Managers handle people. Some do it well, but others seem to make a career of barely getting the job done while seeing how many employees, customers and business associates they can alienate along the way.

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It’s Your Business

  • Author: Terry Greenhut, Management Editor

The word “manage” basically means to handle. It could be the handling of anything, but in the case of business it generally means people. Managers handle people. Some do it well, but others seem to make a career of barely getting the job done while seeing how many employees, customers and business associates they can alienate along the way.

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Managers who do a good job are looked up to and are referred to as leaders. They develop associations with employees, customers and business associates, who become more than willing to follow them in any positive direction. If they begin to take a strange course their supporters are likely to point that out to them, because an important part of their management style is to be open to the suggestions of their followers.

It isn’t all that difficult for a good leader to develop a strong following, because most people want to follow as opposed to lead. All they really want is a leader in whom they can believe. They need to trust that their leader will be there for them in their time of need and will display the courage and intelligence it takes to make them feel safe, protected and comfortable.

Army drill sergeants have a lot in common with what we would consider to be poor managers in business. They make all the classic leadership mistakes in the way they treat the troops who function under them. Of course, that is a far different set of circumstances from a business environment and it could very well be that the discipline they instill saves lives, but picture trying to work for someone like that in the business world. Not pretty, is it? Could you function under someone who barks orders at you continually, belittles and berates you for almost everything you do, and who thinks he knows it all and will not accept any kind of constructive criticism from an employee? Probably not for too long, but if you are that type of a manager yourself and wonder why you can’t keep a good crew together, that very well could be the reason.

Can a bad manager, for whom people work out of fear, be turned into a good leader whom employees want to follow? Sure, but there are some prerequisites. First, that manager needs to recognize that he has a problem. If he doesn’t know that one exists, why would he think he has to change? Then he must learn to recognize good leadership qualities and work hard to change the habits of the past. He may even have to find a whole new crew to work with, because after years of abusing the one he has now, there may be no way to salvage their trust and loyalty.

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So what are the differences between a poor management style and a good leadership style that makes people feel good and want to be more productive? Let’s take a look at some of the different attributes of the poor manager vs. the good manager.

  • A poor manager: Looks to catch people doing things wrong. She wants the opportunity to criticize and correct.
  • A good manager: Wants to catch people in the act of doing things right so that she can reward and reinforce good behavior so people will want to continue and build upon it.
  • A poor manager: Creates regulations that call for more supervision to give himself more chances to catch people making mistakes.
  • A good manager: Removes any regulations that get in the way of productivity and a comfortable working environment.
  • A poor manager: Gives employees directions to follow for every imaginable situation. He leaves nothing to the employee’s imagination or creative side.
  • A good manager: Provides the goal and the concept. Then she stands back and allows the employees to devise the plan of execution on the basis of their knowledge of the actual work environment and their experience as to what worked well in the past and can be applied to the task at hand.
  • A poor manager: Is interested only in completing the present task. If getting it done burns people out, that is of little or no consequence to him. He believes that he can always find others if he has to.
  • A good manager: Is always thinking about the future. He doesn’t want to burn anyone out. He may work people to their capacity, but never beyond. He realizes that he needs to use their skills over and over again and that good employees are not easily replaceable.
  • A bad manager: Looks to control others by whatever means possible. It may involve intimidation, threats, yelling or worse.
  • A good manager: Learns to control himself. He never loses his temper or uses foul language with employees or customers. He never varies from his principles. He is honest and keeps his promises. He sets an example for the employees by never letting his guard down or acting foolish in social situations outside of work. He has an imaginary sign on his back that says, “Follow me.”
  • A bad manager: Talks a lot. She likes the sound of her own voice. She wants to tell people what she knows and why it should be her way.
  • A good manager: Listens. He cares about the opinions of others and tries to learn from them. He doesn’t believe that he knows it all and that there isn’t room for the advice of even the lowest employee on the totem pole.
  • A poor manager: Wants to make all the decisions himself.
  • A good manager: Lends his influence to the decision-making process. He knows that people can’t learn and will make the same mistakes over and over again if they are told how to do everything. He also knows that if an employee is given the opportunity to correct any mistake, with the help and influence of the manager, he likely will never make that same mistake again.
  • A poor manager: Just tries to keep the shop going day after day and month after month. He doesn’t like change, because that would require him to do more work.
  • A good manager: Is never satisfied and is always looking for a better, faster and more-productive way to handle any situation. Hard work and change don’t scare him.
  • A poor manager: Takes credit for everything good that happens in the shop. He somehow believes that it’s all because of him.
  • A good manager: Gives the credit to the employees. He understands that they are the ones who do the physical work and that without them nothing gets done. He also knows that a manager is rated not by how well he performs but by how well the employees under him perform.
  • A poor manager: Believes his job is to tell everyone else what to do, and how and when to do it.
  • A good manager: Believes his job is to help everyone else accomplish theirs, not to do it for them, but to lend a hand when needed. He’s been known to run for a part if it will speed up production, drive a customer home or hold a pry bar for an installer.

A good manager is a good leader of people. He gets things done by empowering people to make good decisions about their own work effort and environment. The company he works for is always the best.

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That’s his attitude toward it, and he works to make all the employees feel the same. He’s a no-nonsense kind of guy who maintains a solid image. He can laugh at himself and understands that no matter how bad any situation may seem at the time, it too shall pass and it is a learning experience to be handled better in the future.

A good manager is a visionary who wants to know only how she can make it better for all the tomorrows than it was today. She understands that for the business to grow the people must grow first. They must be allowed to learn and must be rewarded when they do. They must have the same pride that the owners and managers have. When they tell people where they work, they have to be able to say it with infectious enthusiasm, the kind that makes others believe that taking their car to that shop is the smartest and the only decision they should be making.

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A manager who can accomplish all of that will be known as one of the best in the business.

Visit www.TerryGreenhut.com.

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