Moving From ‘Player’ To ‘Manager’

New Career This blog was inspired by an article I read this week by Ann Francke the chief executive of the CMI.

The article finished with these words, “Avoid the temptation to wander on to the field.” What preceded this was a piece about the importance of leaders remembering that they are paid to think, not to do! This struck a chord with me as in the past I have written about football managers and the fact that some of the very best footballers have failed miserably as managers.

On the other hand some of our greatest football coaches were themselves, only average players.

In this piece, rather than at leadership level I’m going to look at a similar analogy but from the position of a new manager. In my experience the biggest hurdle any new manager faces is that they know they can do the job they are asking others to do much better than them.

They also know that it is quicker to do something themselves than to teach someone else to do it to the same standard.

As most business operate to deadlines there is always time pressure, so the managers do more hands on work themselves at the expense of training! Catch 22!

Most businesses are managed and judged at the highest levels by numbers and KPI statistics.

These statistics then dictate policy and procedure. When managers are only judged by numbers that becomes their only focus.

The fear of not hitting a number is why managers go ‘hands on’ rather than teach.

They think “What’s the point in teaching others, if we don’t get this order out I won’t have a job next week.” Junior managers also have the habit of telling people what to do but without ever explaining why?

When this happens the employee will often think they can do the job simpler or better their own way, without understanding implications further down the line.

This leads to errors and delay and frustration and anger for the businesses owner, manager and the employee who “wasn’t told that”.

Here are my top tips to solve the dilemma above:

  • Schedule set training sessions each week and stick to them. They can be as short as 15 minutes and no longer than 45 dependent on industry and subject
  • Train your managers to spot the ‘learning style’ of each employee and ensure they educate appropriately. Does the employee need a “Tell”, “Show”, “Coach” or “Mentor” approach
  • Ensure your KPIs for this manager are not just production numbers, include staff development KPIs as well
  • Teach this manager by YOUR example, don’t undermine them by doing THEIR job for them
  • Improve team ‘communication’, does everyone “Say exactly what they mean and mean exactly what they say?” Most errors in business are due to minor miscommunications that cost the economy millions if not billions of pounds each year
  • Invest in formal management training for all new managers. This should obviously continue as their career progresses. Our own MTD Essential Management Skills course would be an ideal first step

So to quote Ann Francke but in my own way, when in management, “Keep off the grass”.

Many thanks

Mark Williams

Head of Training

MTD Training   | Image courtesy by Jeroen van Oostrom of FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

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Updated on: 22 January, 2014

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