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Was Management Ever Taught to "Manage?"

A sign on a pool reading "deep water"

Have you ever stopped to wonder how a person is chosen and then placed into a management role, or how they were even qualified? Have you ever experienced someone who has been given the title of manager but acted in a way that didn’t fit your idea of leadership? Have you ever thought, “Did they even receive training to be a manager?”


In most cases, they likely didn’t receive any training. A person is often selected for a management position because they were excelling at the job they were originally hired to do. The barista with the awesome latte skills, or the enthusiastic sales associate are suddenly saddled with the responsibility of leading the team. They get scooped up, promoted, and thrown into the "deep end" of management without being given a life jacket or directions on how to swim.


These new managers are flattered, and certain they can lead the team—after all, they already know them. But then they’re broadsided with the realization that maybe they don’t know the team as well as they thought. The new, excited manager quickly becomes a frustrated and confused manager; they find themselves furiously paddling upstream and often alone. The enthusiasm dulls, confidence is challenged, and declining team productivity leaves them in self-doubt. Even if they truly want to lead this team, they don’t know how.


We are doing a monumental disservice to these new managers; we use them to fill a void but don’t equip them to excel. The most important part of managing people is having “people smarts,” and it is something that can be taught.


Considering "management"

Did we ever make our managers aware that teams align when their people feel seen, heard, respected, significant, and empowered? Do we teach our managers to look for what their teams are doing well and then take time to tell them? Or, do we teach managers to seek out failures and assign blame for lack of results? Are managers leading teams from a place of watching their own backs from fear of job security? Are they viewing the team through a lens of, “what more can I get out my people?”


Have you ever considered that teams are strengthened when managers are trained to instead look through the lens of, “how can I give to me people?” Is it possible that respect, trust, and compassion will create the results they’ve been striving for? What if caring about the person in front of you is a better way to build an empowered, winning team?


Let’s be fair to our managers: train them and give them the tools to excel.


Tools to teach "people smarts"

The questions below can help with training new managers in “people smarts.” Ask them these questions as a committed listener; be authentic and show them they matter as a person first, employee second. Ask them how you can best serve them, and encourage them to come to you with concerns, conflicts, or other matters they need addressed. Let them know you are committed to their success, and you've got their back.


It is uncommon for this type of dialogue to occur from a place of sincerity, which is why modeling sincere, committed, and caring leadership has a bigger impact than simply following a script of questions rooted in rules and guidelines.

  • Why do they choose to work for this company or organization?

  • What inspires them to be on their “A” game and playing 100%?

  • What do they feel they do well?

  • What are areas of improvement they see that you can support them with?

  • What are three things they really like about themselves?

  • What makes them unique, capable, and significant?

  • How would they like feedback to be communicated?

  • What encourages them to raise their own bar for commitment to excelling?

  • What does leadership mean to them?

  • Who is someone that has a leadership style they admire, and why?

  • How can you best support them in keeping their enthusiasm in their management position?


Finally, ask them how these questions made them feel. Do they see how this type of communication could be beneficial in strengthening the team they’re leading?


Now take a moment to personally revisit these questions and ask yourself your why. What has made you a brilliant leader with the desire to pay it forward?

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