By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Gallatin, TN

Newly minted managers (and even longer term managers) can be forgiven a little swagger. They’re glad to have moved up from the lower ranks. But, they can too easily forget how much they used to not know. And that can make them complain about the very staffers they should be training.

Getting to be titled a Manager, or at least functioning like one, is an important step in any BV career. It’s usually evidence of several years of hours invested in the profession. You’ve worked long enough with the rules that you’re starting to see the exceptions. Things start to make sense in a way they didn’t before.

As with managers in other professions, there can be impatience with the less-experienced person who can’t see what you can see quite as quickly as you can see it. Sometimes that impatience gets channeled unproductively. Staff at the very bottom of the organization can get ignored, so they don’t learn. The less they learn, the less helpful they can be, until they’re so bored that they quit. And the cycle starts over.

Other, more experienced staff may exhibit poor work habits which only worsen without proper coaching and correction. What was once a small problem is now a big one that affects overall production. The boss can tell there’s a problem, but may not know exactly what it is or how to fix it. The manager who knows the problem first-hand isn’t equipped to address it. And someone who might have become a productive member of your team has to be let go.

What’s worse, you may be making a similar mistake as your managers in expecting them to have knowledge that you take for granted. If your managers are complaining instead of training, maybe you need to –

  • Make it clear what you expect from them when it comes to managing staff. Your managers have probably been around long enough to know what they need to do when it comes to making decisions about staff assignments, managing the process and getting work out the door. What they may need more help with is the ‘softer’ side of managing individuals as a team. One of the best ways to learn what they need is to ask. Simply raising the subject in conversation will communicate that you think it’s important, and can start a conversation that can trigger new ideas.
  • Give them the tools they need. That might be an appropriately chosen assessment program you use throughout your practice that gives insight into the personalities that comprise your team, and the most productive ways to manage them. Or, it might be a half-day or full-day seminar, or workshop, on some aspect of managing people and teams.
  • Model the behavior you want. During your interactions with less-experienced staff, demonstrate how learning can take place so that concepts register and work product improves. Sometimes all your manager might need is to see how you handle a given situation.

Remember that sounds like a manager complaining about problems with a staffer’s learning process might really be evidence that your manager needs help when it comes to teaching.

John Borrowman