A former colleague of mine was very frustrated. He had been promoted to a manager role a year ago. At that time, he was ecstatic with the promotion, seeing it as a validation of his performance. He had worked hard at building a high performance team and thought that he had done an outstanding job managing the team- being fair, unbiased and open. But in his performance review, he was told that his team was extremely unhappy with him. Some felt that the goals were constantly changing and he did not care about them beyond their work. Some others felt that he never recognized good work and expected people to work 24 X7. My colleague was shattered by the feedback and started questioning whether he was even right for a people management role.
It is easy to blame manager inexperience or the fact that organizations don’t prepare first time managers for the transition. But the bigger issue is that even in cases where managers are prepared for the transition, organizations apply a “cookie cutter” approach to leadership and manager development.
Little attention is paid to understanding the manager’s strength’s (& dark side). Managers are also rarely encouraged (or developed) to understand that people management success requires them to adapt their style to suit each individual team member. A “one size fits all” approach to team management rarely works.
Early in my career, I had a wonderful team that was performing well. But over time it started becoming clear that their heart was not in it. Fortunately for me, a mentor recommended that I make an effort to understand the team better. Over a 2 day workshop I discovered how I was failing the team as a manager. Some team members had a high need for inclusion and affection. While others valued goal orientation and visibility. My “one size fits all” approach was helping some and harming others on the team. It was a huge wake up call for me and became a turning point for me as a people manager!
Today more than ever before we have the highest diversity in our workforce- generational, gender, ethnicity etc. It has now become more important than ever before for a manager to fine tune the way they lead their team.
Leadership and manager development programs need to start equipping their leaders and managers with the necessary tools and technology o understand the team’s individual needs and flex their style to help the team become a high performing one. The organization culture must also make it ok for managers to be vulnerable and ask people what is working for them and what needs to get better.
The time of “one size fits one” approach to people management is already here! Employees expect it. Are we as leaders and managers ready?