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[url]http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2007-08-12-no-manage_N.htm?csp=3...

It's called "Who Wants to Be a Middle Manager?"

There was a time when I sounded like the Gen-X and Y quotes in this article... "I'd never want to be a manager!" What happened?? :wink:

WillDuke's picture

Interesting article. I think that the business world is responsible. Sure a movie like Office Space becomes a cult hit and makes managers seem like idiots. But that concept had to resonate first. Corporate America hasn't trained their managers. We're all here looking for more right? Corporate America has fallen in love with "downsizing" and "rightsizing" and middle management is one of their favorite targets.

Now we've found M&M & MT. Their stated goal
[quote]Manager Tools is a weekly podcast focused on helping you become a more effective manager and leader.[/quote]
Not just manager, but leader. Imagine that all managers were leaders. Imagine that all managers held to the ideals that M&M present. Imagine that you only ever worked for people like that. Now, can you imagine that article ever being written?

ccleveland's picture

I see to big opportunities in this article:

1. An opportunity for M&M and the M-T community to spread the word about good management practices.
2. An opportunity for M-T managers to take on these "undesirable" roles and be effective. The negative "hype" might increase the market value of effective middle-managers.

CC

terrih's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]Not just manager, but leader. Imagine that all managers were leaders. Imagine that all managers held to the ideals that M&M present. Imagine that you only ever worked for people like that. Now, can you imagine that article ever being written?[/quote]

Nope! :)

madamos's picture

Unfortunately many people just don't understand what Management and being a Manager is all about. I have actively looked for Mangement opportunities for most of my career. For me, it started early on and grew out of two key points.
1) I get a great amount of satisfaction when I teach someone else a new skill or how to improve on a skill
2) I like being in a position where I can contribute to the long term goals

Most people see being a Middle Manager as going to meetings and cracking the whip of their direct reports. I see being a Middle Manager as the opportunity to teach and coach others in new skills and contribute to the long term direction of a company.

Also, many people get promoted or take a management job because they feel it is the only way to get ahead at work (higher salary, more important work). This is a poor reason to take a management job. But most companies don't have good talent planning and career paths set for their people. There should always be a way for a high performing individual contributor to be promoted without need to force them into management.

MadAmos

James Gutherson's picture

[quote="terrih"]

There was a time when I sounded like the Gen-X and Y quotes in this article... "I'd never want to be a manager!" What happened?? :wink:[/quote]

I remember during my undergraduate engineering degree thinking to myself "why are they making me do these management subjects, I don't want to be a manager, I want to do real work" :wink:

cwcollin's picture

....the number of times my company has cancelled or simply let mentoring programs die. In the end, we have quit trying......it's been over 2 years since any of my managers asked me about my career aspirations/growth.

Guess what industry we are in *Sigh*

I suppose it could be a symptom of the new age where, "no one owes anybody anything" that could explain corporate americas abandonment of leadership training and succession planning. Why would you spend $$ on an investment that could not directly tie back to your balance sheet?

US41's picture

Hi, cwcollin.

Maybe there is more to it than apathy toward intangibles and indirect revenue generation. I spent years in school studying for my MBA, and yet the one course I had in people management covered stupid stuff like Theory X and Theory Y styles plus had lots of trust-falling and other fluffy idiocy in it. I felt it was next to useless, and I felt very confused as to why I was such a bad people manager despite having so much management education.

Then I was suddenly faced with the concept of annual reviews in a big company. I worked really hard at mentoring a particular person, but when review time came and I gave her a great score, management knocked the score back down to an average score. "No one gets a great score around here." I was told. Begin track toward apathy.

I was forced to tell my lone report that despite having done a great job, they would basically get nothing for it and an average review despite our amazing profits in our huge company.

I saw this repeated time and again. Finally, I had become so disgusted I approached the director of my department and offered to forego my annual increase if I could avoid the character-assassination that was my annual review experience and BS score I received.

I think its more than just managers don't want to look at the bottom line. Frankly, I think so much of the management process has been punted to HR in order to avoid lawsuits that HR has been allowed to over-process it and basically trash what used to be effective practices by centralizing control over them and ensuring politically correct outcomes that have no associated risk.

It is what Drucker preaches against: Going for the safe and mediocre instead of the dangerously strong. If we manage to weakness by trying to hire the safest employee and use only the safest practices, we essentially guarantee that management will turn into zombies, go into a state of self-loathing, rot, and die on the vine.

I think in my company many managers are simply disgusted with the way the company operates to the point that they do not even try. They are afraid you will respond poorly to attempts to mentor you, that it will be seen as pedantic lecturing or that they have no incentives to offer you because the company takes all of that away from them. They feel helpless in a big machine that is malfunctioning more than they simply look at dollar signs.

But as it stands today, we can be thankful the bar is set so low. We don't have to do very much to be awesome managers compared to everyone else. Have some one on ones, stumble and stutter through some feedback, and just even try to coach your folks a little and we're like management experts compared to everyone else who has given up completely or has no clue what to do.

James Gutherson's picture

:shock:
That must feel better US41 :D

I have seen much of the same behaviour from organisations in my past and that of my peers. (This is one reason that I am so amazed by what Mike and Mark offer. I knew after 5 minutes of the first cast I heard, that there was more usable content here than in my whole MBA.)

Anyway here's hoping your anonimity stays strong.

agreen's picture

[quote] other fluffy idiocy[/quote]

[quote]But as it stands today, we can be thankful the bar is set so low. We don't have to do very much to be awesome managers compared to everyone else. Have some one on ones, stumble and stutter through some feedback, and just even try to coach your folks a little and we're like management experts compared to everyone else who has given up completely or has no clue what to do.[/quote]

After having just read these quotes from US41 I laughed out loud, and that was because it is so true. I am with Jim, in that I was hooked after the first 5 minutes. My MBA really got my study skills honed and gave me lots of background. But went nowhere near giving me the practical skills. Lots of "fluffy idiocy". IF you don't mind US41 I might try and use that each day for the rest of the week.

As for your comments about stumbling through effective feedback, it is so true! I just tell my self everytime "breath, deep long slow breaths, but just keep breathing!" I have listened to about a third of the podcasts and thinking of starting my own expert consultancy :lol: