What Happens When People Are Promoted To Management

When They Don’t Know How To Manage People?

If you are that person or if you were the leader who promoted that person or if you have an aspiration to be promoted to management, then this is for you.

Mark has technical skills your organisation cannot afford to lose. No one else in the organisation has his level of expertise. You really want him to focus on bringing that expertise to research and development, enhancing the product development and service delivery in the organisation. Mark, however, has been wanting to move into management for the past 18 months, saying that having been with the organisation for 3 years at the same level, he deserves a promotion given his significant contribution.

You don’t deny any of that and you are quite concerned that if you don’t grant that management promotion to him, he may seek it elsewhere. So what do you do? You make him a manager. What happens next is an organisation’s worst nightmare.

Because Mark is highly skilled technically, he believes that his management will be assessed on how successful he is at getting his team members to produce work at the same high criteria he has set for himself at a technical level. He becomes the command and control leader. He micro-manages his people to make sure the work is getting done. If it’s not done, he puts significant pressure on them to work back to get it done, using fear as a motivator. He sets and imposes his standards and monitors each team member to see they are being met.  He becomes angry when anyone slips up or doesn’t meet deadlines and then if things don’t go the way he wants them to he can be moody for days at a time. He barks orders at his team that verge on bullying and harassment.

For the first 6 months, the team’s output and results are significant and that confirms to Mark that he is a good manager and that his style is just what is needed. He believes that you can’t trust people to perform at a high level without monitoring what they are doing, and making them keep their heads down and checking their output on a regular basis to ensure they are meeting expected targets and using their time productively. His results confirm his belief, he thinks. His team accept his leadership style even though they don’t like it because Mark was introduced to the team by the CEO who spoke highly of his expertise and skills and no one wanted to be seen to contradict that by complaining.

It all then began to change however. A talented team member seen as a prospective leader resigns to take up another job. She doesn’t implicate Mark even though he is the main reason for her departure. One respected team member goes higher up to make a complaint about Mark and reveals the low morale and discontent in the team. A few months later, two go off on stress leave and cite Mark as the reason and the insurer asks the organisation what it is going to do about Mark. Two more cite their commitment to the organisation and ask to be moved to another department because they cannot work with Mark. There is a noticeable increase in absenteeism in the team. The team appears to be disintegrating.

In fact, what has happened is devastating for Mark. All his professional life he has been a success story, highly acclaimed for his technical expertise, always working at the cutting edge. Now, for the first time in his life, he experiences himself as a failure. Initially he denies responsibility and turns it back on the lack of commitment and expertise in the team that he has inherited. He may or may not later become aware of what has happened.

So What Has Happened In This Common Situation?

Mark does not make the transition from doing the work of a team member to managing the team. He is no longer doing the job he loves, instead he is motivating the people he manages to do the job he loves and they will never, in his eyes, do it as good as he does it.

He has spent his professional life investing in his technical skills and has not seen the importance of developing soft skills. His professional identity is completely tied to his technical expertise so why would he? He hasn’t kept himself up to date with the changing economy and the fact that organisations are now looking for people who know how to motivate and inspire people to high performance. They want people, especially in management and leadership, who have more rounded personalities, who have a wide range of skills and expertise, not just technical skills.

Let’s not blame Mark for all of this, however. He has been promoted not because he has been identified as having good management or leadership potential but because of his previous role as a technical expert of high standing.  It really does not make sense when you think about it, to promote a technical expert to management and believe he would naturally be good at motivating people.

He was appointed to this position with no experience or training in leadership or management.

Even when his manager became aware he was having difficulties, and it was apparent that  team members were unhappy with his management style,  little was done. Because of that, the organisation was at risk of being left with a non-performing manager in Mark, while the prospective talented leaders of the future left because they could work under him.

Mark’s managers haven’t well-developed soft skills either. They delayed having that crucial conversation because they didn’t know how to have it in a way that would motivate Mark to want to change. Instead they feared that they would de-motivate him and he would leave. They cannot explain to him what they want from him. They cannot even articulate clearly what is wrong about what he is doing. It’s all fuzzy and confused so Mark is often not clear even after talking with them what he needs to do to change.

As well, his organisation does not have a structure for holding on to their technical experts, while at the same time advancing their careers, apart from advancing them into management for which they are often patently unsuited.

I see this happening constantly in my work. People are constantly telling me: “Oh yes, we have people like that in our organisation.” These technical experts advanced into management without the skills to manage people were one of the groups of people for whom I wrote my book – Soft Skills – The Hard Stuff of Success. It is frequently difficult to get them to change, however, or even believe they need to, even when their leaders offer them coaching or mentoring opportunities to do so.  Learning the skills to be the coach, not the critic, and be able to motivate performance rather than command and control it, is a start in helping leaders learn how to have the kinds of conversations with people like Mark which will inspire him to want to change their style of management.


This May Not Surprise You: Only 10% of Managers Have What It Takes To Be Managers 

This article by Ben Schiller reports on a recent Gallup report that revealed that only 10% of managers have what it takes to be “a great manager”. Constantly, however, people are promoted to management not because they show potential to be good leaders and managers but because of some other factor – their seniority in the organisation, or, as is often the case, because of their technical expertise.

It went on to say:

“Great managers possess a rare combination of five talents. They motivate their employees, assert themselves to overcome obstacles, create a culture of accountability, build trusting relationships and make informed, unbiased decisions for the good of their team and company,” says the report. “The majority of managers are miscast.”

Not only that, the outcomes for the organisations that promote people to positions of management and leadership  who don’t have the very specific skills to lead and manage in the new workplace are often disastrous.

In the same study, where 27 million people were surveyed over 195 countries, it was found that engagement levels were very low, in Australia about 23%. Gallup formed the conclusion then that managers are responsible for 70% of engagement variance.

This article, which is a report on that research, is well-worth reading and backs up my comments above. There is also a link to the research within the article for those who want to explore it further.


Five Questions You Should Ask Before Accepting A Management Position

Is being promoted to management  a goal you aspire to? If so, then it is important to read this article by Stephanie Taylor Christensen. She indicates that while it may be what people aspire to as they endeavour to climb the career ladder, being a manager does not always bring the rewards and fulfillment the new manager expects.

The same Gallup research mentioned in the article above found that in the US only 35% of managers were engaged in their job. What this means in reality is that for 65% their promotion to management has been a great disappointment and has not given them the satisfaction they expected. If the managers themselves are disengaged, they will certainly not be able to engage their team members in the work of the organisation.

What is valuable about this article by Christensen is that she cites five questions that it is important to find answers to before you accept a management position, to ensure that it will meet your expectations and bring you the career satisfaction you want.

1.     Will I actually be managing people?

2.     What will my typical day look like?

3.     How will my performance be measured?

4.     How much say will I have in Personnel decisions?

5.     Why did the previous manager leave?

With answers to these questions you will be better able to assess whether you can be the manager you want to be motivating your people and building a high performing team.


Some Inspirational Quotes To Motivate You.

Richard Lyle IMG_2764

Before you become a leader success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others…..Jack Welch.

Work on your job, make a living. Work on yourself, make a fortune……..Jim Rohn.

The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are, for what we could become………..Charles Dubois.

There’s only one thing worse than training your staff and having them leave, and that’s not training them and having them stay……………Zig Ziglar.

The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people,

but real management is developing people through work  ……Agha Hasan Abedi.







Time flies, but you are the pilot and you can fly anywhere you like with your time. You can, however, let it fly on auto pilot while you involve yourself in attending, almost unconsciously, to a multitude of things that come in your door or across your desk.

You can also waste it. You can turn it into busy-ness that produces lots of stress but few outcomes. You can use it to meet everyone else’s expectations except your own. You can spend it doing things that bring short term satisfaction but that jeopardise the long term results you really want. You can use it to do things that drain your energy or use it to do things that motivate, inspire and empower you.

Most of us have difficulty managing our time in a conscious and focused way to bring about the outcomes you want. The two areas I want to get you thinking about and acting on are managing interruptions and managing your energy.

If you are able to master those two challenges, you will come close to making time management a thing of the past. I want you to embrace what Eben Pagan has said:
“The term ‘time management’ is a misnomer; we need to manage ourselves, not time”.

Maree Harris, Ph.D.



 Are Interruptions At Work The Bane Of Your Life?

Last year I conducted a workshop on Time Management for Busy Professionals. I had a checklist of 12 Reasons Why Time Management Is A Challenge that I asked the participants to prioritise with 1 being the least challenging and 10 being the most. I thought they would mark as 10 things like “I can’t say No”, or “I find it difficult to prioritise because everything is important”, or “I have too many meeting and I can’t get anything done”. But, no, it wasn’t any of those. What was marked No.10, overwhelmingly, was: “I have too many interruptions”.

As we discussed this, what came through was that not only did they not have any strategies for managing this, but interruptions triggered a whole lot of emotions in them they used up a lot of their energy. They feared to say anything to their colleagues who interrupted them. They felt they had to take their client’s phone calls and curb their frustration and be polite. They felt they had to answer emails when their computer “pinged”. In all, interruptions were very frustrating.

This is why this article by Doug Conant is so important and helpful – Why Leaders Should Embrace Interruptions.

Doug is a globally  highly regarded CEO, more recently known as the CEO that turned the Campbell Soup Company around, after which he resigned and set up his own leadership development company, Conant Leadership. He consistently produces excellent inspiring reading and he is one of my preferred thought leaders.

He believes the dozens, and dozens of interruptions we have every day can be used to expand our influence and to build meaningful  relationships with our colleagues and clients and that they can be used as learning experiences.

If after you have read this article, you want to know more about how he has done this, read his book – TouchPoints – Creating Powerful Leadership Connections in the Smallest of Moments.



Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.

Discovering the work of Tony Schwartz about 7 years ago via a Harvard Business Review article, Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time, had a profound impact on me and the way I think about time management.

Tony is the President and Founder of The Energy Project, a global “consulting and training company that provides organisations with a detailed roadmap for building and sustaining a fully energised workforce”. He says that they help “leaders and managers become ‘Chief Energy Officers’ by taking responsibility for mobilising, focusing, inspiring, and regularly renewing the energy of those they lead.”

While the article has been written with senior leaders in mind, it has a message of value for everyone, that when your energy levels are high, time does fly and you are very much in the pilot’s seat.

The Energy Project’s research has revealed that 74% of employees are experiencing a personal energy crisis. That’s a lot of worn out, depleted people in our organisations. Most don’t know what to do about it. Many think it is just par for the course if you want to be successful in what you do. Schwartz does not believe this and has developed a program to take people into highly energised spaces that impact both their personal and professional lives.

One of the key points Schwartz makes is that while time is “a finite resource”, after all there is only 24 hours in a day, energy is not. You can expand, recharge, renew, develop and enhance your energy. You can learn ways to do that. You can stop doing the things that drain your energy for starters and use that time to do the energising work that empowers you. Have you noticed how high energy people never seem to be stressed or overwhelmed? They always seem to have time for what they deem to be important to them.

In Managing Your Energy, Not Your Time, Schwartz gives a number of practical examples of how he has developed these energy management skills in organisations that make it quite clear that managing your energy can really result in much higher performance.

Do The Energy Audit On Yourself.

While you may not be in a position to do his program you can start with his ENERGY AUDIT in this article – Are You Headed For An Energy Crisis? He has 16 questions that measure the energy levels in your body, your mind, your emotions and your spirit. He gives you scores for your answers and you can see how your energy management skills rate. The rest of the article will give you some ideas on what you need to be doing to improve those skills.

This article is well worthwhile taking the time to read. I also recommend you download the report done by The Energy Project in partnership with the Harvard Business Review – “The Human Era @ Work”.

20,000 people were surveyed about their experience in the modern workplace with the overwhelming message coming back that the “vast majority of employees feel depleted, diminished, disenfranchised, demoralised, and disengaged at work.”

I have a message that I communicate to leaders and managers in all my leadership development work: If you look after your people, they will look after your organisation. This was also the message this research sent back to organisations.


Free On-line Course – 20 weeks – Time Management For Busy Professionals.

While the two articles above do give you strategies for managing your time better, the bigger challenge they represent is about changing your mindset and making quite big changes in the way you live your life, way beyond managing your time.

I created this on-line course after the workshop I spoke about above. It is very practical and full of strategies and tips. If you go to the Time Management For Busy Professionals page on my website you can find out what’s covered in the 20 weeks and you can register if it resonates with you and you believe it would be helpful.

The course is delivered by email – one email a week for 20 weeks. Each email has a strategy for you to work on for that week.

Women – Who’s Shaping Your Career?

June 27, 2016

You have to plan your career and if you don’t someone else will do it for you. You will find yourself doing what someone else believes you should be doing. These two workshops are about empowering women to plan their careers and how they can stand out from the crowd.

Read the full article →

Rethinking Performance Appraisals.

May 27, 2016

Since the 1980s they have been the ceremonial event of the year for white collar workers in every post-industrial economy. Yet, there is no other business practice that fails so often to bring about the outcomes it sets for itself, but continues to be used year after year.

In the last 12 months many companies around the world have therefore abandoned them. Some you may recognise are: Adobe, NAB, Deloitte, Accenture, Microsoft, Motorola, Seek, Zappos, GE, Expedia, Dell and Atlassian and I could go on and on.
What are they doing differently and why do we need to rethink the traditional appraisal?

Read the full article →

Leadership And Performance Appraisals Are Changing

May 11, 2016

The changing face of leadership and the rethinking of performance appraisals are highlighted in this newsletter. There are a number of articles and blog posts that will hopefully motivate and inspire you to think about leadership. There is also some thoughts on performance appraisals and information on 3 workshops I am conducting on that topic in the next few weeks.

Read the full article →

Ten Talents of Highly Successful Professionals

April 18, 2016

Here are ten talents that I look for when wanting to engage with highly successful professionals. They are qualities that these professionals have made a big commitment over periods of time to develop in themselves. The outcome for them has been great success. You also can become a highly successful and talented professional by learning these skills.

Read the full article →

Empower Yourself To Be The Best Version Of You In 2016.

January 18, 2016

Another year! Another opportunity to empower yourself to be the best version of yourself in 2016. Here are 5 inspiring articles to help you to do just that. If you haven’t downloaded your copy of the e-book – Expect More From 2016 – you can do this here also.

Read the full article →

A Christmas E-Book Gift – Expect More From 2016.

December 21, 2015

Today I want to give you a Christmas Gift that will inspire you to successful action in 2016 – the latest edition of the e-book Expect More From 2016 – Strategies for Success from 22 Leading Experts in Personal and Professional Development.

Every year Gihan Perera brings together a group of experts and invites them to write an article that may inspire people in the new year. It has been my privilege to be involved now over many years.

This year my article is : Be An Empowered Leader – Even If You Are Not The Boss.

You can download a copy of the e-book for yourself and you can share it with your colleagues and friends.

Read the full article →

How Have You Changed Your Life This Year?

December 21, 2015

Another year is drawing to a close. While these last days are usually a crazy time with no time to think, I’m going to pose some questions for you to think about. Maybe you’ll get some time to consider them after Christmas and before the new year begins.

I’d also like to suggest that you take a pen and paper and sit quietly somewhere and write down your thoughts. Or if you are the creative type, draw it out on your sketch pad. Reflection while tapping on a computer keyboard does not open you up to your deepest creative and reflective self!
If you’ve had a great year, these are probably the reasons why and you need to keep doing them. If you had a disappointing year I’m guessing the reasons why and you need to change something in the next year.

Read the full article →

Is Procrastination Really A Time Management Issue?

September 30, 2015

Procrastination is usually seen as a time management issue, but is it? New research from Stockholm University suggests otherwise. This article particularly looks at chronic procrastination and what can be done about it. There is also a recommendation to a very good free e-book on Mentoring by a colleague, Ann Rolfe. If you are someone who feels that your career is stalled, then there is a recommendation to go and read my blog: What to do when your career stalls.

Read the full article →