On the weekend I found time to read the Sunday newspapers, a rare treat for me as I usually finish them on the following Friday. But oh boy what a depressing read. Public sector managers paying £250 to have a light bulb changed; fewer teachers struck off from teaching in the last decade than the number of players making up the Welsh rugby squad for the six nations while millions are spent on providing 16 to 24 year olds with basic literacy and numeracy skills; doctors backing away from working on agendas to improve the health service because under the proposed new pension arrangements they will only receive a pension of about £65,000 per annum when they retire and council managers doubling car parking charges so its increasingly likely that people won’t drive to the towns anymore and so promoting the closure of even more shops in the High Street.
Why are managers so dumb to create these preposterous situations? Well of course there are lots of reasons. One classic is that managers often look for the ‘quick fix’. In this scenario little thought is put into solving a problem and certainly little vision on long term outcomes is considered. Another is where managers fail to give clear direction, so where a poor manager makes every instruction a priority, people will soon believe that there are no priorities and the big risk is that a goal or project is never completed. There are managers who make decisions before asking for input from juniors and colleagues. People soon get the measure of that and seldom provide input so frequently bad decisions are made. Another classic is failure to communicate and the message just doesn’t get through so misunderstandings become prevalent and incorrect actions occur. As a result performance becomes substandard not just by the poor manager but that person may create a whole chain of poor staff including other managers, hence the management deficient organisation occurs.
I started this article with examples of such organisations. So why do we have all of these dumb managers? Simply because we are poor at providing managers with the skills they need to do their job effectively. When good training is offered, providers are often confronted with dumb managers who won’t sign up as they see it as a sign of weakness signalling to others that they are short of skills, or they are too busy (the best excuse in the business of dumb managers) and finally that they can’t afford to train (the business will collapse if they are away for half a day or cash is too tight that one can’t find £100 or so!!). Of course and thank goodness that not all managers are dumb but those who are should wake up to the challenge ahead and demonstrate some courage to get themselves fit for purpose. Lets hope that they become captain courageous like Laura Dekker, the 16 year old Dutch girl who has just become the youngest person to sail 27,000 miles around the world single-handedly and not captain Francesco Schettino dubbed coward after he sailed the Costa Concordia into rocks off the coast of Tuscany with significant loss of life.
Dr Hugh Billot
Director HR GO (Recruitment) Limited
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