Why Managers are Afraid to Manage
The headline reads: Managers are Afraid to Manage. That is, they are afraid to do the very job they are sanctioned to do. Can you imagine? The experts, the one’s in charge are afraid to face the challenges of their jobs! One CEO asked me, how deep does this go?
A recent study found that 44% of managers are fearful and anxious about giving negative feedback and one fifth avoid the practice altogether—they don’t even try! Now if you’re paying attention, like me, you’ll know that there is more training out there for managers than anyone can digest. So what’s the problem? Why is it that managers are afraid to manage?
The optimist in me thought, okay…..Negative feedback is hard, not impossible or immobilizing, but I’ll concede it can be hard. But the research further revealed that nearly 40% of managers admitted to never giving positive feedback either.
So I asked the next logical question. Are managers communicating at all with their team members?
Turns out, not much. Another study found that almost 70% of managers are afraid to talk to their employees. If managers are afraid to talk to team members then managers are afraid to manage.
Managers are afraid to manage because they need more than training
Managers need to feel comfortable, knowledgeable and empowered while they are embedded, shoulder-to-shoulder, on the front lines with team members. They function critically close to where the value is created for customers—at the cornerstone of productivity, daily progress and long-term momentum. You could say that managers are the heart of progress and productivity.
When managers are not performing, team members are left to their own devices. In this climate, a petty conflict, tension and frustration or even a minor setback can send team spirit spiraling downward to the point where frustration and disgust take over. Sadly it takes over for productivity and progress.
We need to do more than provide off-the-shelf training to managers. Employee’s productivity and organizational progress suffers when managers are afraid to face the challenges of their position. Research shows that managers account for 70% of the variance in how much an employee will engage. Although recently employee engagement is up, 53% of employees in the U.S. remain in the “not engaged” category.
Managers need to feel powerful again
In the past management was simple and easy. Managers gave orders and demanded loyalty. It was that simple. Resources exceeded demand so that made it easy. But management has been slowly and quietly changing since the Industrial Revolution.
No one told the managers that everything has changed and all they see is the result of that change. The manager’s job nowadays is unpredictable and fraught with challenges. It requires deeper insights and a higher degree of finesse. This is why managers are afraid to manage. They don’t know what to do!
When managers don’t know what to do the safest thing to do is do nothing. The immediate pain subsides but the background discomfort of feeling powerless, ineffective and frustrated plagues their work. Many companies are succeeding in spite of their management rather than because of it.
We need to re-invigorate and go deeper to educate and empower managers. They have the potential to build resonance, to make each day a win and to compound those daily wins into exponential momentum.
Management is the new leadership
Good managers know that the challenges we see today are also filled with opportunities to make a difference. They simply need to be guided to how to make a difference.
The same ways the smart phone improved on the Palm and the Blackberry, we must improve on management and bring our managers into alignment with the trends of the 21st century.
Today, there are managers and there are managers who lead. Managers who lead are invigorated, deeply knowledgeable and empowered to:
- Communicate with team members (listen and share)
- Use a coaching style to build team engagement and create daily wins
- Show interest in team members’ success and well-being
- Enable team members rather than micromanage them
To learn even more, download our new free report, Management is the New Leadership: How to Create a Breakthrough in Productivity and Engagement
Brian Braudis works closely with managers—beyond models, flow charts, traditional training and coaching to uncover latent talent and develop deeper insights into the art and craft of management in the 21st century.
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Tags: Management, Managers, Managers are Afraid to Manage, Managers Who Lead