The Accidental Manager

Today’s complex business environment deserves better than ‘the accidental manager’

Whilst attending a recent module on my MBA course, Frankie Kemp, our module leader, used the phrase ‘accidental manager’.  Although said in passing, it resonated with me for so many reasons.

Managers within a work environment can be the make or break of your working experience, and let’s face it, if, it’s a grim experience for seven and, often more, hours a day, it can impact every facet of your life.

Like having a favourite teacher you never forget, you always remember a great manager at work.

Someone once told me that people don’t leave a company they leave a boss (of course this isn’t always true) but managers are often pivotal to a member of staff’s skills attainment, productiveness, career development, and overall pastoral wellbeing.

It remains so important that if you are going to promote someone into a role of manager or leader, it has to be someone who understands what they must achieve for the organisation: service delivery;  increased productivity; continuous service improvements; budget targets; quality output, etc.  On top of this, they must also be mindful of the affect that they have upon those that they lead to those objectives.

For example, a great subject matter expert, a disruptive/opinionated member of staff, long serving employee or, someone who ‘deserves’ a pay rise, should not be in a managerial position unless properly equipped to do so.  How many of us have tales of being poorly managed, to the extent of making us utterly miserable, anxious, or distressed?

I have been into too many organisations where managers have said that they’ve never attended a manager’s training course.  They’re at the end of their tether because they can’t get ‘X’ to do anything but the bare minimum.  They can’t motivate people to contribute at meetings, or suggest ideas to improve what and how they do things.

Some managers themselves were hiding their own insecurities and anxieties (of poor management skills) behind a façade of defensiveness, bullying and incoherence which, in turn, became a vicious circle for all parties concerned.

Managers are often not aware that each team member can have a different learning, and communication style, they are unaware that their body language, and verbal tone can have a greater affect on the recipient than the mere words they use.

There has been an increase in employment legislation, and employment tribunal claims – bullying, stress, discrimination in all its forms, constructive dismissals etc.  Many of these claims are are the result of ‘poor’ uniformed, ill equipped managerial skills and decisions.

As businesses continue to operate in an increasingly, complex, fast paced technological, economic and political environment, it’s obvious that managing is too important to leave to ‘the accidental manager’.  You do so at your organisation’s peril.

Invest in managers you never forget for the right reasons.

This article was written by guest author, Julia Szczepanski

She has over 30 years’ experience working within the professional services sector as a legal practitioner, director of business development, and in senior operational roles where she led cross border projects and commercial initiatives.

Julia was also the managing director of a global research and asset repatriation company where she was responsible for the internal re-structure of the business, internal quality compliance, operations, financial performance, and key UK and overseas’ client accounts.

She was also a senior relationship manager with Deloitte,  publisher and  group strategy director for The Lawyer magazine and its commercial products; GM of operations with Evalueserve, a global specialist in knowledge management processes, and providing services onsite for a ‘Magic Circle’ law firm where her key responsibilities were service innovation, continuous service improvement programmes, product procurement, key stakeholder collaboration, team leadership and development, and control of the information resources budget.  Julia and her team were shortlisted down to the final shortlist from 400 global entries, for an innovation award.

Julia Szczepanski completed her MBA at the University of Kent Business School.

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