Teaching Managers to Manage (or Better Yet, Lead)


    Managers Rate Themselves High, But Workers Prove Tough Critics – WSJ.com

    There are always stories about how something like 80% of employees think they are above average and that's mocked. OK, it's statistically possible that 80% are above average (it's not the median, but that's a little too Six Sigma for me), but the point is that most people over-estimate their capabilities.

    This story from the WSJ turns the tables on managers and their lack of self awareness.

    “Managers overall get an OK grade,” he said. “But there's a big disconnect between how managers think they're doing and how employees think [managers are] doing. Most managers don't think they're doing a bad job. Most people don't think they're doing a bad job. But if you're not getting feedback from your employees on how well you're doing, where else do you get it from?”

    Managers are surprised by their 360-degree reviews. Guess what, the managers aren't as good as they think they are.

    “While 92% of managers say they are doing an “excellent” or “good” job managing employees, only 67% of workers agree. An additional 23% say their boss is doing a “fair” job, and 10% find their manager is doing a “poor” job, according to a survey of 1,854 U.S. workers by Rasmussen Reports LLC for Hudson, the staffing and outsourcing firm.”

    So why is this?

    Meanwhile, 26% of managers said they don't get enough training to handle their responsibilities, the survey found.

    “Managers are saying, ‘I need help to do my job and to manage people more effectively,'” Mr. Morgan said. “I see this happen all the time. You promote someone who's one of your best employees, maybe your best salesperson.

    “Well, what does the organization do to support that person in that transition? It's a whole different set of responsibilities.”

    How often do we see a top engineer or technical person who is promoted to manager and then flounders? This happens in healthcare also. “Congratulations, you're now management” and they're left to figure it out themselves.

    One thing that fascinates me about Toyota (and leads to their success) is their leadership development model. They have standard work for team leaders, group leaders, etc. They TEACH you how to manage and how to lead people. It's not a free for all, you're taught to manage in a system and as part of a system.

    Does your company really do this? 40 hours of random management training doesn't necessarily do it. Do they really teach you how to manage day-to-day or did you just have to figure it out? I know that when I was put into management roles briefly at companies, I had to figure it out by myself… and I hated it.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. Hi there,

      I read some of your comments about managers being promoted into their positions and left to ‘figure it out’.. You cited Toyota as having a model that teaches managers to be managers. I think that used to be true – but not anymore.. Toyota has become so LEAN that managers don’t have time to train to be proper managers. I work for Toyota and so I know this first hand. I’ve witnessed severAl people get promoted up – who have never managed people before. However they have a proven track record in their field – and this is what seems to qualify them to ‘manage people’. I have one example of a manager who has an awesome resume (CPA from a top school – worked for PWC.. Etc). This person was hired as a manager.. She would hover over her employees for hours at a time watching what they do – one employee said that she felt uncomfortable with her doing this – but the manager insisted that she DO it – because she is the boss.. This eventually was escalated to HR – who told the manager to ‘never make an employee feel uncomfortable again – yet this manager insisted that SHE IS the boss and she can do as she pleases.. This is just one example..

      There are so many others… These is NO time for training managers – they don’t even know how to provide good feedback (during review time).. They don’t know how to help develop an employee.. They don’t know how to encourage an employee, they don’t know how to give compliments in order to encourage an employee… Many managers at Toyota are extremely arrogant – which goes against the Toyota culture (japanese culture).. This is also how I know that there isn’t any training – because this japanese company would never allow arrogant managers to exist..

      Please think about doing ‘current’ research on Toyota – and try and help.


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