Skip to content

Why Manager’s Don’t Do People Management

by David Brock on August 29th, 2008
I’m a great fan of Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Blog. This week, he posted a great article entitled “Why Managers Don’t Do People Management.”

Coincidentally, I have been reading several articles and market reports about the tremendous growth in the “Coaching” business. These with Wally’s article lead to some real concerns.

In our experience, managers are not spending the right amount of time in “people management,” that is coaching, mentoring, developing, and managing performance. Wally cites a study that would indicate 58% of the people responding would believe that managers are not devoting sufficient time to people management.

Wally points out some reasons: They don’t think it’s their job, they don’t have the tools they need, they won’t deal with the uncomfortable parts. I think these are important.

The rise of the “Coaching” business show that organizations are “outsourcing” significant parts of their people management responsibilities to people outside the organization.

All of this is disturbing. As a consultant and coach, I believe that outside professionals can provide tremendous value in complementing management in developing their people and organizations. Coaches and consultants can never displace management, or relieve them of their people management responsibilities. Doing this robs the manager the opportunity to develop their own capabilities as leaders and to, in fact lead the organization. It robs the subordinate the opportunity to get the direction, coaching, mentoring most important to their growth and contribution to the organization. Finally, it erodes the strength and potential of the entire organization.

Too many years ago, when I was promoted into my first management job at IBM, I learned some lessons that have stuck with me to this day and form the core of my beliefs about effective management. Part of the reason I was promoted was that I was a great individual contributor–I produced result, met my goals, achieved my numbers.

In my first day as a new manager, I was told that my job had changed. My contributions as an individual weren’t the most important things in my new role. My success as a manager was entirely dependent on my ability to get things done through my people. This was not commanding or directing people to execute tasks, but this was done through coaching, mentoring, and developing people to contribute the most they possibly could. It involved getting them to be both efficient and effective in performing their jobs. It meant removing obstacles and barriers that impacted them. Finally, it meant managing performance to the highest levels possible.

It’s is an unfortunate comment on the “state of the organization” that 58% of the respondents to a major survey do not believe managers are doing this. It is disappointing to see inappropriate use of outsiders to absolve management of this responsibility—-we’re good, but we have to be used properly and not as a substitute for strong people management.

Top executive and leaders need to set the example. They need to refocus their efforts on being effective and powerful people managers. They need to set the example. Top managers need to set the expectation, measure and reward the performance of all managers in their organization based on their people management.

One thing I learned in IBM was that I could occasionally be forgiven for missing a goal or not making my numbers. However, the fastest way to lose my job was to be a bad people manager. The reason was simple, the power of effectively developing and leading your people produces results that are far greater than an individual contributor!

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

Be Sociable, Share!
3 Comments
  1. Wally Bock permalink

    You make excellent points, David. The coaching and counseling is part of the managers job. Outsourcing it, either to HR or to “designated coaches” or to outsiders robs both sides. The team members lose the interaction and wisdom that their boss could bring. The bosses lose the ability to truly accomplish the mission while they care for the people.

  2. Tone-Setter permalink

    I really appreciate you comments regarding your IBM experiences. I worked for IBM for fifteen years and that is where I developed my passion for personal leadership. From the time I was a systems engineer to the time I was a Vice President at IBM, I knew that people development was important.

    When I was promoted to my first, “first-line,” management position as a Marketing Manager, I was told the following: We can always find people who know how to make the numbers, and we can always find people who know how to manage people, however, we have great difficulty finding people who know how to do both consistently over the long-term.

    In one of the early chapters of one of my books, “Corporate Rise: The X Principles of Extreme Personal Leadership”, I discuss people development in detail. I think you will enjoy it very much.

    Curtis J. Crawford, Ph.D.
    President and CEO
    XCEO, Inc. http://www.xceo.net

  3. Curtis J. Crawford, Ph.D. permalink

    I really appreciate you comments regarding your IBM experiences. I worked for IBM for fifteen years and that is where I developed my passion for personal leadership. From the time I was a systems engineer to the time I was a Vice President at IBM, I knew that people development was important.

    When I was promoted to my first, “first-line,” management position as a Marketing Manager, I was told the following: We can always find people who know how to make the numbers, and we can always find people who know how to manage people, however, we have great difficulty finding people who know how to do both consistently over the long-term.

    In one of the early chapters of one of my books, “Corporate Rise: The X Principles of Extreme Personal Leadership”, I discuss people development in detail. I think you will enjoy it very much.

    Curtis J. Crawford, Ph.D.
    President and CEO
    XCEO, Inc. http://www.xceo.net

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS