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Is this the Silliest Mistake in Management?

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3:43pm 22nd October 2015
(Updated 3:44pm 22nd October 2015)

Words by David Smallman - www.smallmanonbusiness.com

A Management’s performance should always be judged by the successful - or otherwise - actions of those that are managed.

Whilst it’s not a view held by all to me it’s obvious that management is its own area of expertise separate from the actions of those being managed.

As can be seen In many of the top organisations around the world in business as well as public life managers frequently lack proficiency in the actual output from the firm or public body but these top managers create the environment in which those being managed can and do succeed.

And yet time and time again I see good honest people promoted beyond their skill level or indeed beyond their interest.

A good example is of a workshop supervisor I met recently with excellent machine shop skills who had been promoted to overall production manager on the retirement of the previous incumbent. The rational for his promotion was given variously as – he has been “Fred’s” the number two for years, he knows all the people on the shop floor, he understands the product, in pecking order it’s his turn etc.

All of these were and are silly reasons for his promotion because now he had to guide, manage and develop other engineers, as well as interact with others within the firm to manage the overall business strategy and of course the over 20 years of shop floor skill and day to day understanding was lost as the best supervisor in the firm was tasked with running production; something that was outside his skill set and frankly, as is often the case, not something he was particularly interested in.

He had no knowledge and training in managing people – the difference between managing and supervising is a wide gulf - and whilst his interpersonal skills worked well in a workshop they were not suited to being part of a management team.

This is just one example I could give plenty of others, such a brilliant young lab scientist who became departmental manager on the grounds that the only way the firm could keep her was to move her into the next pay scale (management) and the firm lost the skill of somebody who could make life changing discoveries.

It’s a silly mistake that all too often made in our businesses and we should guard against it at all costs.

The act of managing a successful business of any size is a skill -whilst often intuitive- that needs to be grounded in a fundamental understanding of business, its process and procedures and this must be linked to an ability to interact with people to bring out their best, for their advantage and therefore your firms.


david smallman

David Smallman has over 48 years of experience, gained living, working and doing business in 58 countries. He is writer on business matters including a smallman logoregular column “150 words that should make sense in your business” available in print in the USA and online.

He is broadcaster who has contributed to The Business Hub here on Pirate 2 DAB; helping listeners to “making sense of business".






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