Why can’t managers manage?
This week I turn my attention to the quality of management in organisations or perhaps the lack of it. Are good bosses as rare as hen’s teeth? Without fail, poor management is one of the top, if not the top reason we leave organisations. Why can’t managers manage?
Chris Roebuck is the honorary Visiting Professor of Transformational leadership at London’s Cass Business School. A former serving military officer, Chris is also former global head of Leadership at HSBC Investment Bank and UBS. Whilst at UBS, the work that Chris and his team delivering success through people became a Harvard Business Review Case Study.
Speaking truth to power [5:33]
A fundamental element of an open culture is the ability for employees to tell managers the truth. Workers who are frightened of delivering bad news or news they don’t think managers want to hear can lead to catastrophic events such as the Boeing 737 Max disaster and BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.
Changing workplace culture [09:14]
Chris argues that even if the c-suite are committed to changing an organisational culture, the message often gets diluted as the message filters down. Managers are often distracted by their own operational issues. Many people argue this is because communications say in a global business are complex. Chris disagrees and points to a 50 year old communications framework published by the Industrial Society (since rebranded as The Work Foundation) called ‘Team Briefing’ that provides the fundamentals of good communication that he believes far too many organisations ignore.
Should HR be guardians of organisational culture? [13:16]
No is the simple answer. The C-Suite are the guardians of the culture along with other leaders in the organisation. HR are their to facilitate and support. If leaders and managers abrogate their responsibility to HR, the leader is just passing the buck. The employee relationship rests with the line manager and it’s the line manager who needs to do the talking.
Why don’t business schools teach leadership skills? [17:20]
I ask why business schools seem to be so poor at teaching soft skills. Chris responds saying this sort of training is seen as old fashioned and unimportant and business strategy is the sexy stuff. Chris provides some startling statistics that underline that managers are ill-equipped to to deal with overwhelming majority having never received any management training in for example effective delegation.
What lessons can be learnt from military training? [21:28]
Chris is a veteran of the world-famous Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He comments that Sandhurst and other military academies around the world don’t even talk about strategy until the officer cadets are skilled in the basics such as time management, prioritisation, communication, giving feedback and delegating to others. These he feels are valuable lessons managers in the civilian organisations should be taught.
Does effective management equal better team productivity? [23:59]
Chris suggests that it is basically impossible to draw a direct correlation between management performance and the performance of teams or individuals as its impossible to isolate this one variable. However, he quotes plenty of statistics that demonstrates that employees who are managed by an effective and inspirational manager will drive bottom line performance.
What’s the one thing that defines a good boss? [34.33]
Chris reveals the single leadership quality that he says is mentioned time and again when hew asks audiences to describe the best manager they ever had.