I was listening to Rio Ferdinand the other night talking about Ronaldo. He said he’d never met anyone with as much dedication to be the very, very best they could be. He described Ronaldo’s relentless hard work and focus on the training field, practising over and over and over again. But it didn’t stop there, when visiting him at home he found a whole other personal team – nutritionist, fitness guy, chef…
There’s obviously nothing wrong with his motivation, work ethic, team spirit, creativity or skill. The perfect ‘employee!’ So where does the team manager fit in if all these things are covered with his players? Let’s just say for argument’s sake that we’ll ignore modesty for now!
Well, football is a team sport and you could say that despite these attributes a manager still has his work cut out. The manager has to decide on a system to play and the tactics he’ll embrace to negate the threat of the opposition. He has to create a structure throughout the team that looks after the basics, but allows him to maximise the creativity of his flair players. He may have to rein in ego to ensure that ultimate self-belief is also tempered by a belief in the system and team mates. Not so much a problem when the team is full of superstars at club level but sometimes more of a challenge with various skill levels in a national team.
Even with a team of superstars the manager must be a strategist, a tactician, an adept people manager, be media savvy and have a skin as thick as a rhino! Any applicants?
That’s why it’s interesting when ex-players become managers with little or no training, as has happened recently. In football you can get coaching badges from the Football Association to become an accredited coach but then you usually learn by becoming the sorcerer’s apprentice. You go to work as a number two to the best manager who’ll have you. I’m going to be really interested to see how Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard progress in their respective roles next season. Like many ‘accidental’ managers they have been promoted to manage because they’re great at their job and were pretty inspirational players.
Sometimes people thrown in at the deep end are just naturals. They have either an inherent or learned skill set that allows them to hit the ground running, probably not perfectly but they quickly learn on the job and get results. Others just sink unless they have access to training, coaching or perhaps a trusted mentor who is there as a constant sounding-board, dragging team morale & productivity down with them.
In the business world it’s often impossible to have every manager on a formal management apprenticeship. We do have many versions of informal apprenticeships; I can think of a particular manager from whom I learned so much in my career. But many business founders, brilliant at what they do, find themselves in the deep end as they start to employ people.
They are ‘accidental managers’ themselves and by promoting good people from within, create more accidental managers. Sometimes people thrown in are just left to get on with it which can adversely affect them, their team members and ultimately the business.
With so much training, coaching and development being done on the job, the team development is constrained by the knowhow of the manager. When that manager is sometimes also working for another ‘accidental manager’ i.e. the business owner, then you see where this is going.
The business owner is unhappy with their second line’s performance but that usually works both ways. The manager wants to learn and develop but is frustrated by the lack of investment in development by the owner. And so on it goes. The owner doesn’t like confrontation so doesn’t do much other than grumble, the manager starts to look for other jobs and in the meantime the team have lost respect for both of them and are working on their CVs!
Okay, that’s worse case scenario but even watered down versions aren’t great for the business, its people or its clients. One of the saddest aspects of this is when someone is promoted from a job they’re great at and love, to a job that frustrates the hell out of them due to lack of development.
Similarly, it’s why you find some business owners who are working all hours because they dread having to employ others. And others who look fondly back at the happy days when it was just them!
It doesn’t have to be like this.
If you as a business owner want to be free to become a serial entrepreneur or just to have more quality time, then you need that strong second-line manager. Someone with the skills to develop the systems the business needs and to enable your high-performing team to run them. The first step to make a change is to decide to invest in management development, whether that be for you, your second line or both!
And if you are a manager reading this and you recognise yourself, then decide to speak to your boss. Think about what you’re already doing well and think about where you need help. It would be hard to think badly of someone who shows self-awareness and has recognised their knowledge gap and how their development would impact on the business. Research too how that development could happen to make it as easy as possible for your busy boss to move forward. Be proactive and take that step.
To do nothing is to preserve the status quo and if that isn’t currently good enough then how will it improve?
Do one thing:
Take a step back from the day to day and think about the skills your manager needs (or you need). Then make it happen – schedule time for development or get help.
Download the brochure for our Managers’ Development Programme here
Email us for more information here: firstname.lastname@example.org
“I’m only two modules in, but I’ve already grown in confidence in leading my team and I’m no longer nervous around giving them constructive feedback. Thank you to Marianne for her wisdom and expertise!”– Maddy Kelly, Boda Skins
“Under Marianne’s coaching my team members have grown out of all recognition.”– Jeff Lermer, Founder, JLA Chartered Accountants
“When the revenue lines on the growth chart are off the page and it is hell for leather, do you really have the quality time available to develop your managers, particularly those that might lack some experience having risen through the ranks? At Gemini we took the decision to put their development in the very capable hands of Marianne and her team.
Marianne has created the safe space and the calm considered, collaborative environment that has allowed our management teams to throw off a few shackles, tackle some really quite nuanced issues and seek affirmation and new ideas from Marianne’s team and those from other sectors who find themselves in the very same boat. We have seen real step changes in confidence and behaviours and been able to identify future development plans.”
– Jason, Operations Manager, Gemini Parking Solutions
Thanks for reading 🙂