Managers – Have We Taken Our Eye Off Of The Ball?

Have We Taken Our Eye Off of The Ball?

We live in a funny time, employers have never been so cautious about their employees. It is almost like they are living in perpetual fear of recrimination.

  • We cannot say this
  • We cannot do that
  • Will we upset them
  • What if they cry

It is getting almost ridiculous.  During training courses that I lead for managers, I am often faced to two extremes. Those managers who live in perpetual fear of getting in wrong, and so abdicate every step back to HR, and those who genuinely wander the lands of management in complete ignorance, they believe nothing will ever go wrong and if it ever does then it will happen to someone else.

Perhaps both are mistaken.

Yes employees could be difficult, but let’s remember, as employers these employees have a contract of employment whereby they are remunerated for doing a job and they are expected to behave in a specific way.  Occasionally, a misstep will be taken and things can get legal, and yet it seems only occasionally.

As managers, it is our job to ensure that the business operates and the sections or departments that we have responsibility for are effective. That means we have to manage.  That means the following:

  • We have to get the job done.


  • We have to make tough decisions.


  • We have to develop and train our teams.


  • We have to delegate tasks that need to get done, even if they are unpleasant.


  • We have to report on activity, both good and bad, and be held accountable.


  • We have to give feedback to people that may be difficult to deliver and to hear.


  • We have to be seen to balanced and above reproach.


If as managers, we live in an environment of fear, where for each of these management actions, we have the doubts listed at the top of this blog, then how will the job ever get done?

Have we gone to far? Have we become so cautious that at the cost of getting things done, we have become to pandering to our doubts and to things that have not yet even occurred?

I am sure that there are managers and HR professionals who will say no, because the cost of getting it wrong is too high.  Well I am inclined to agree of course, as I have witnessed over the years all sorts of claims and grievances.  Yet where is the point where we say enough?

For me, it is in the message that should be delivered in management training sessions, management induction sessions and learning from lessons that can be applied from exit interviews.

When I train managers, I have a simple three-pronged message.

Protect the Business

Protect the Manager

Protect the Employee

Protect the Business

As a manager look at the wider picture, consider all of your actions in terms of how they impact other departments and people that you are either dependent on or come into contact with.  An example. Think about how what you do affects the customer, so if you work in sales, can your actions affect what happens to the client when they come into contact with accounts and vice versa? If you don’t, things could get ugly for the business, so think about it. Consider it. What other examples could you think of?

Protect the Manager

As a manager, be the manager you always wanted to be, be the manager that you are paid to be and be the manager you would want to be managed by. Be the best you can be. Read stuff.  Keep learning new things.  Talk to other managers in the business about how they manage.  How many times do I meet managers in businesses, and they never share experiences or talk together about what they do and how they can help each other. It is usually a reactive set of conversations that take place only when things go wrong, or it is too late. Prevention is better than cure. Create transparency. Look after each other.  Start talking to each other.

Protect the Employee

Make sure that when you are delegating or objective setting, that you have considered what you are asking.  Think about the following considerations it is more updated version of SMART that I have created.

Support – How much are you going to give?

Monitor – How closely will you get involved?

Authority – How much authority will the person have? When do you step in?

Resources – Does this person have what they need to do the job? Tools, people, resources, time, money or skill?

Time – Realistically when does it need to be done? Don’t impose rubbish deadlines that create unnecessary pressure.

Outcome – Remind yourself why you are doing this, what is it you are looking to achieve by asking this to be done.

By following simple, not stifling processes you can manage effectively and simply, don’t overstretch, do keep things straightforward.  In these times where we have so many warnings flown in our faces, lets not forget, the job still has to be done.

Thanks for reading, and if your managers need any support or help with their role, check out the Management and Leadership Development we offer at




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