Adventures in Management-The New Manager


Adventures in Management-The New Manager

In the last few weeks I have been leading management training. This training has been specifically for people who are either new to management or thinking that they would like to be developed as a manager.

When I think back to the very first management course I attended, I think it was a week in duration; it was filled with all the new and exciting management language and jargon. Delegation this, motivation that, something called SMART, you know the stuff I am talking about. At the time it was quite thrilling, this new world opening to me, extra responsibility, being able to actually tell people what to do, legitimately, because someone somewhere thought I was ready for this and actually believed I could do it.  As the course went on, conversations merged into discussing respect, and how it was earned and not freely given. Hmm, I was not sure about that, isn’t there a distinction between respecting a person for who they are and what they have achieved, and then respecting the position alone? And come to think of it, I remember asking the trainer what respect actually means in the context of management. She gave me a very strange look and replied that perhaps I should look it up in a dictionary! I know, I was shocked too, as I thought it was a pretty fair question. Oh and when I did look it up, it has a lot more to do with admiration than it does for anything else, and that I did buy into. So now when the subject of respect rears it head on one of my courses, I steer things to admiration, and people tend to get it.

On this theme, my younger, more naïve, very questioning and inquisitive self found the conversation moving to leadership. “So management and leadership are different are they?” I asked. “Oh yes”, I was told, “all managers need to aspire to become great leaders”. “Ok” I replied, “but I thought we were on a management course? Is there a leadership course that follows?” I was told “no”, so I asked, “if an employee is to be trained how to be a manager then surely the managers are being trained to be leaders? And what about people who carry out the role of supervisor, how does that work?” The poor trainer looked annoyed. I don’t blame her really. I would have been in her position, at that time. However, as the years have rolled on, the these questions have bugged me and when I deliver training myself I pose these questions to delegates, so that they have a round understanding of what is expected of them in a management role. I try very hard to remove the management jargon from my courses and replace it with real working language that actually means something.

You see many people find themselves in a management position not because their own manager has identified that they have a talent for it, instead I find new managers in the position because it was the next best thing for them, they were good at their job and so it was felt management was to be the next step. So what we have is not really a manager, but an employee who is very competent at what they are doing, indeed they could be exemplary, and now finds themselves wearing a badge. It says ‘manager’ on it. It should really have an ‘L’ plate on it like new drivers and a ‘P’ on it later for when a test has been passed. Only then would a new manager, be really worthy of the name manager. This experiential test should really be implemented too, and could look like this.

Question 1– Set your team a number of objectives for the next month and write them down in a way that makes them workable.

Question 2– Plan a feedback session with one of your team members, and map out how you are going to do it. Include in your answer how you would tackle criticism and praise.

Question 3– Create and agenda for a team meeting, run the meeting and list action points to be implemented as a result.

Question 4– Plan and carry out a meeting with a member of staff that involves you given them a ‘bollocking’. List any objectives coming out of it.

Question 5– how would you go about dealing with a member of staff who was asking you for a pay rise? What would you say? Answer this with a view that the member of staff will not get one.

Question 6– how would you go about recruiting for a new member of staff? What process would you follow? (You cannot answer, “I would let HR do it.” Oh no we do not abdicate responsibility here)

Question 7– you have a member of staff with body odour, how would you approach this?

Question 8 – What would you do to lift staff morale in your team, when the reason they are all low, is down to something going on in the business around them, but not directly affecting them.

Question 9 – Please evidence what motivates your team, both as a group and on an individual basis? Please also explain how you know this.

Question 10– Are you a good manager? Do you believe you are a ‘leader’? If so please explain why.

If you were hoping I would put the answers in, then sorry, you will need to attend one of my courses for that. You see these questions relate directly to the role of the manager, Henri Fayol talks about the five functions of a manager; planning, organising, commanding, co-ordinating and controlling. I have only known one other trainer talk about Fayol out of over 100 trainers who said they understood management. These others are happy to talk about bloody Maslow till their blue in the face but not Fayol. Interesting. His ideals are not out-dated and his 14 principles are pretty robust too, with a bit of updating. The point I am making here is that new managers need to understand that management it not a reward, or a badge, but a whole world of responsibility, not just for themselves but also for the people and processes they have to manage.

As I train new managers, it is fascinates me how many actually lack these basic skills, yes I get that is the point of training, but even when faced with them, they actually have no clue how to go about sorting them and have no way of actually dealing with them. New managers especially need a lot of support and cannot be left to just get on with it, talk about setting people up to fail! This is indicative of managers who themselves were left to get on with it, and learn from the school of hard knocks, and so they pass this on, like a poison chalice. All new managers and some experienced ones too, need a mentor or coach to help with the transition into Managementland, it is a scary place and can leave a new manager lacking in confidence and in extremes facing mutiny from a team, for something that actually isn’t their fault. In larger companies they turn to HR to sort it out. That isn’t management that is abdicating responsibility, or perhaps some think it is effective delegation…hmmm now that is another blog.

Thanks for reading. The Manager’s Journey is a course led by Simon Hares Lead Trainer at SerialTrainer7. For more information or to book a course visit



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