You promote a person into a new management role and then tell them to “go, go, go!” Accomplish great things, lead the team, and make sure get your reports in on time. Then at some point, unless the focus is natural for them, you wonder where their people skills went. As a long time business coach, it certainly does appear to be a common theme, though certainly not something all leaders believe. People skills in leadership, business, and management are certainly a critical piece, but the primary reasons this is not the pervasive belief are the focus on this week’s Monday Moment.
Popular Reason #1: Hired to Produce
Most new leaders are promoted into their positions of management because of their individual performance. The results from their own efforts made them shine and rarely are they taught how to change that focus, on a dime. Promoted and placed into a higher paying role, their focus remains their own results. The goal of the team becomes how to help that leader succeed, again. This approach is more common than perhaps it should be, but also explains why, if allowed to continue, managers continue to experience high levels of turn over, complaints, lack of engagement, and struggles to motivate.
Popular Reason #2: Paper Takes Priority
If all that is measured for a manager is their reporting, completion of appraisals and myriad other pieces of paperwork…turned in on time and completed correctly…then this will be the sum total of their focus. A large portion of managers naturally lean toward and are talented at getting things done and having fun. Having fun can largely be accomplished by receiving appreciation, so pay attention to that for which you appreciate these new leaders. If praise is poured on for paperwork of one kind or another, senior leadership is training these managers to ignore anything other than that which brings appreciation. If follow up is only consistent when it comes to reports and other “things”, and the questions asked are “did you get that done?”, “did you finish that one?”, “have you finished your project”, the notion of people being the priority will readily be rejected in favor of getting what appears to be most important, done. What is paid attention to appears to take priority.
Popular Reason #3: Structure and Systems Support It
The culture of your office, organization, or corporation matters when it comes to what the managers believe. If the culture is truly customer-centric, tasks and activities will reflect this belief. If employees are seen as internal customers, the actions leaders take will align. If the organization wishes they were people focused and centered on the needs of both those they lead and those who feed the business need, but the reality is something quite different, then all behavior will reflect that difference.
There are a number of reasons a new manager or newly promoted leader may believe or be led to believe that people are not what they need to succeed. Beyond structure and systems or the organization, and even beyond the paper trail and reasons for which they were promoted, it’s really all about how we train them to treat the people they have the privilege of leading. If you are in a leadership role and responsible for the development of future leaders, mark carefully what priorities you chase and what behaviors take place that may be sending a very different message than the one you intend and that will produce consequences with which you’ll later have to contend.