Time and time again, I talk with managers who are struggling and they don't know where to turn or who to ask for guidance. Here is what many of them tell me -
1. If I ask my boss for help, he/she will think I'm not ready for this job.
2. If I ask a peer for insight or advice, they might sabotage me in the next promotion opportunity.
3. If I admit I don't know how to do something, I could lose my job.
So they do nothing. They show up for work each day, do their best, deal regularly with putting out fires, and occasionally they may be rewarded with a pat on the back. All of this while feeling frustrated, not understanding that most everyone else is clueless like they are, and that asking for help would actually be a sign of strength.
What type of systems would help a manager in this situation? Let me explain three -
1. Training - It was happening when I was promoted to my first management position 30 years ago, and it continues to happen today. Companies take excellent individual contributors and promote them. They basically say, "You'll do a great job!" to their new manager, and proceed to let them figure it out alone and on their own. With 87% of the workforce disengaged and costing companies millions of dollars because of poor managers, we no longer have the luxury of sink or swim. Training is necessary. We need to show managers how to become excellent leaders.
2. Mentor/Advisor - Every one of us needs a mentor or advisor, a confidant we can go to and be candid with our fears, opinions, goals, etc. Far too few have them. It is most common to see people in top C-Suite positions provided with coaches paid for by the company, but those struggling in middle management are left to fend for themselves. Some of that is understandable, because it is difficult for business today to afford that type of coaching for mid-level positions. However, there are affordable options.
3. Leadership System - Over the centuries, successful leaders have followed a similar system to achieve success. That's the good news. The bad news is that they didn't really know they were following a system, because they were eeking it out one step at a time just like the rest of us. But there were the select (or lucky) few who experienced a career long enough to figure out some key elements that worked for them. If everyone in management had the luxury of 20 to 30 years, there is a good chance each one would figure it out. The question is, if there is a consistent system, why should we expect anyone to figure it out on their own - especially if it will take them 30 years to do it?
The truth is, management can be like a maze. You go this way and bang your head. So you turn and go that way and there is another roadblock. You take a slight detour, another barrier.
Let's stop the madness! Check out my newest free training "How to Be a Great Manager" by clicking here.