Why your people shouldn’t be managing others!

One of the things that strikes me as odd is the number of managers who have taken the extra salary to take on people management responsibilities but have then chosen to not really do what comes with that part of the job or just do not have the skill. I come across people every week who never really sit down for 121s with their people outside of mandated appraisals or don't really do much to inspire or help anyone develop in any meaningful or targeted way.

It’s also interesting to note that when you look at the CV’s of those who were in people management positions, the wording is always very generic rather than focusing on any actual people achievements:

‘Managed a large team’, ‘increased the team to six people’, ‘motivated the team to exceed targets’ are lovely statements but you’d find them on any number of CV’s! What does it all actually mean? In other cases there are people who may have a job description that effectively puts the people management bit of the job at, say, 30% or more of the role - so you would perhaps expect 30% of their achievements to be people related - and often they aren't!

Answering employee questions, signing off holiday/expense forms and delegating tasks is very low-level managing on a basic admin level but often is what some managers are calling 'management'. The focus needs to instead be on how you as manager helped grow the person's capability, how you helped them improve performance, how you inspired them to do what?

It should primarily be about the 'but for' test - 'But for me this team member would not have...?'. Management skill, as we know, does not come easy to all Managers. And it is a skill and at its worst execution leads to awful morale, people leaving every two minutes, grievances, tribunals and rubbish productivity. Many people will have 'a go at managing' or 'have a go at interviewing applicants' without  any real training and wonder why things aren't going as they should. "It's easy, it's just people stuff" is a common response but if it was all so easy wouldn't everyone be actually doing it? Some questions to ask ourselves next time we are thinking about management recruitment/succession:

1) Why does this person want to manage? - is it just about money or is it the only way to progress their career? What's the primary motivation?

2) Do you really want this person in a people management role with all the risks that go with this?

3) Have they shown flashes of brilliance when it comes to how they relate to and deal with others? Is there a way of getting them to perhaps mentor/look after just one person for a while to see how they get on in a lower-risk way?

4) Do they already have lots of credibility and respect around the office? Not everyone can be a software developer, a management accountant or a surgeon - and not everyone can be a manager.