Tenets of Management Design: Managers are created not found

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In this post, I continue to explore the tenets of the new field I’m pioneering, “Management Design.”  Management Design is a response to the bad existing designs that are currently used in creating managers.  These current designs describe how managers tend to be created by accident, rather than by design, or that efforts to develop quality and effective managers fall short.

Today’s tenet of Management Design: Managers are created not found

In an examination of the other “current designs”, there is a tendency to focus on the hiring process.

–Find someone with experience as a manager

–Find someone who acts like a manager

–Find someone who did well as an individual contributor

–Find someone with technical expertise in the area being managed

These do not constitute adequate design, because they focus on one component of the process of how managers become managers – the moment someone hires the managers.  After that moment has passed, there is relatively little emphasis on what happens to make sure that person becomes a great manager – that is, uses good, solid management practices.

The general assumption is that management practices are somehow innate to people, and if they have talent in one area, these management practices will appear.   However, with this general belief, you will have a low percentage of success, and a high level of pain with your management staff.

So when I say “Managers are created”, I mean that there has to be a concerted effort to have a system that creates the management practices that you want your organization to perform.

In my previous article, I discuss how a great manager doesn’t rely on finding top performers, but creates a system for generating top performers.  The same holds true for management designers.  Great management designers want to have solid hiring practices, but given that management is a functional skill, the management designer needs to consider a system that assures the following elements:

  1. Management tasks are performed on the job
  2. When management skills are performed well, they are positively reinforced
  3. When management skills are not performed well, they are given feedback on how to start performing them well
  4. When management practices that detrimental to management are performed (such as yelling), they need to be given feedback/coaching or, if this doesn’t work, removed from the management role (using performance management).

These are elements, post-hiring, that create a system that creates great managers.  This does take investment and effort, but given the cost of low quality managers, the return on investment is there.

With more of a system that creates great managers, you aren’t hoping that you get the right hire as much as you make sure the people you hire into management do the job well once they’re in it.   It’s less of a gamble, and it opens up the pool of candidates to a wider population.   With a system with these components, you also allow people to try management as a new functional skill, rather than as a risky career leap.

How would you characterize your organization?  Does it try to “Find” great managers through hiring, and then wait and see, or does it try to create great managers through a system that reinforces the correct practices, and discourages the incorrect practices?

Related articles:

Tenets of Management Design: Focus on the basics, then move to style points

Tenets of Management Design: Managing is a functional skill

Tenets of Management Design: Drive towards understanding reality and away from relying on perceptions

Tenets of Management Design: Identify and reward employees who do good work

Tenets of Management Design: A role in management is not an extension of performance as an individual contributor

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About Walter Oelwein
Walter Oelwein, CMC, CPT, helps managers become better at managing. To do this, he founded Business Performance Consulting, LLC .


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