The Lost Art of Management

 
You know, I think that over the last few decades that “business” has lost the art of managing their people. (I say “business” because obviously there are some great managers out there – but, in general, management is a lost art!)

We’ve managed to pull through the GFC (“Global Financial Crisis”) and have emerged into a market that is very competitive, with tighter margins and that is far more globalised than ever before.

There are also significant opportunities for businesses that are have the capacity and capability to embrace them. But here lies the challenge…

I am finding that most businesses do not have the necessary “middle- management” skills and personnel to pull it off.

Why is this so?

Well, in an effort to become more efficient, we have “excised the fat” and removed layers of middle-management by pushing more and more responsibility down the “chain of command”.

“Delegation and empowerment” have been the buzz words of the first decade of this century. Now, this was fine when economies and businesses grew at unprecedented rates and that being an effective sales person meant that you were quickest to the fax to collect new orders when they came through.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, high profile CEO’s (“Chainsaw” Al Dunlap, etal) made a big impact with their “razor gangs” laying off hundreds of thousands of people, mainly middle managers, in the search for improved profits.

I believe this was short-term thinking and that the long-term effects were camouflaged by the huge economic growth from the late 1990’s to 2008.

“Money can paper over a lot of cracks” has been my mantra and since 2008, when the cash vanished, the cracks have been laid bare.

My colleague, Mike Boyle – the Sales Scientist (Mike is a leading sales consultant and if you’re having any issues with sales in your business – you need to contact him at www.banjargroup.com.au ) – has found similar issues in Sales Management and has expressed it beautifully.

Mike says “If managers are seen as by managing by results, they are actually managing by fear.

If they are seen as managing by activities, they are managing by pressure.

Neither of these management strategies will grow the capabilities of the team to meet future challenges.

They should be placing a large proportion of their time in developing and coaching their sales team to lift skills, improve knowledge and change behaviors” and he has the data to prove that this works.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mike. In essence, we have lost the art of coaching and mentoring our team members.

We are often very good at measuring the numbers and “cracking the whip” on activities but not very good at coaching our team to build skills, knowledge and change behaviours.

I believe it will be exacerbated in our changing workforce, as the “experience” of the Baby Boomers leaves the workforce and is replaced by the “enthusiasm” of Gen Y who have not been coached and developed to the same extent.

For me, this raises a couple of fundamental questions:

What are your managers doing to “grow” their people?

How will you move from a management culture based on fear and pressure to one based on mentoring and growth?

Your answers will be critical to your long term business success.

Russell Cummings is a career consultant having spent the last 25 years working as a Strategy and Business Development Facilitator to a wide cross-section of businesses and industries. For more information on Russell, visit www.sbdbusiness.com.au

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