Nine reasons why managers struggle, and what to do about it

A great way to become a better manager is to learn from the mistakes of others. The former CEO and president of Verizon Wireless Denny F. Strigl lists many lessons on why managers struggle and how they can improve, in his book “Managers, Can You Hear Me Now? Hard Hitting Lessons on How to Get Real Results”.

Strigl sees nine reasons managers struggle:

  1. They fail to build trust and integrity
  2. They have the wrong focus
  3. They don’t model or build accountability
  4. The fail to consistently reinforce what’s important
  5. They over rely on consensus
  6. They focus on being popular
  7. They get caught up in their self-importance
  8. They put their heads in the sand
  9. They fix problems, no causes.

The basis of all is trust and integrity. This is your starting point. Show that you are honest, authentic and genuine. Hold everybody else to that same standard.

You may be a great manager, but always make sure that what you are focused on is truly aligned with the values and the strategy of the organization.

As a manager, people report to you, solid line or dotted line. You must hold them accountable. If you don’t do that, you will fail as a manager.

Continually reminding people of what’s important sounds counter-intuitive. Some people learn slowly, some forget. You must remind the organization of the priorities over and over again.

All decisions do not need the buy-in from everybody. Most of the times it can’t be achieved. You have to make decisions and move on.

Being popular is great, but that’s not the core of the business. It is achieving results and working together.

You may be very proud of your promotion and need to be confident in your job. But you need to focus on the work that needs to be done and those who are doing the work.

You must not be afraid of confronting difficult issues in the organization, also the soft issues. If you ask yourself the question, is something a problem, it is a sign that you should deal with it.

If you at the end fail, ask why did this happen? You should go many levels deep to find the true root cause for the problem. Fix the cause and you will not have that problem any more.

That is how you become a great manager.

VIDEO TRANSCRIPT

A great way to become a better manager is to learn from the mistakes of others. Here’s a list of nine reasons why managers fail. The list was created by Denny Strigl.

Number one, managers fail if they fail to build trust and integrity.
You must start there. Build trust and integrity into your organization. Show your honesty, that you are authentic and genuine and hold everybody else to that same standard. That’s how you build trust and integrity.

Managers fail if they have the wrong focus.
You may be a great manager, but you’re doing the wrong things. So, you must make sure that what you are doing and what you are focused on truly is aligned with the values and the strategy of the organization you’re working in.

Managers fail if they don’t build and manage accountability.
As a manager, you give people tasks. People report to you, solid line or dotted line, They work for you and you give them tasks that they need to work on and results that they should produce. You must hold them accountable for them. If you don’t do that, you will fail as a manager.

Number four, managers fail if they fail to continually remind people of what’s important.
This sounds counter-intuitive. You would think as a manager, you don’t have to repeat the same stuff over and over again, but you have to. People don’t take you seriously. They don’t know that you really mean it, until you repeat it many, many, times. Some people learn slowly, some people forget, so you have to remind the organization of the priorities over and over again.

Managers fail if they over-rely on consensus,
If they think that every decision needs to get the buy-in from everybody. Most of the times it can’t be achieved, you just have to make a call, you have to make a decision and move on.

Managers also fail if they focus on being popular.
It’s great to be popular, it’s a good feeling, but that’s not the core of the business. The core of the business is achieving results and working together.

Managers fail if they get caught up in self-importance.
You may be very proud of your promotion. You have great job title and think you’re important. That’s good, you need to be confident in your job. But you shouldn’t be overly obsessed with your own self-importance. You need to focus on the work that needs to be done and the people who are actually doing the work.

Managers fail if they put their heads in the sand.
You must prioritize, and there are times when you say I’ll deal with this later. This is not the battle to take right now. But you mustn’t be afraid of confronting real issues in the organization. And sometimes there are soft issues. So it’s difficult to know whether it really is a problem or not. But if you ask yourself the question, then actually, that is a sign that it is a problem that you should deal with and it can relate to company culture, integrity, leadership, personal chemistry, many, many soft parts of leadership and management.

Number nine, managers fail if they fix problems not causes.
There are times when there is just no time to fix the real cause and just have to fix the problem and move on. But you should go back and ask why? Why did we fail. When you find the answer, you ask why again. Why did this happen, why is this the case? You go many levels deep to find out the true root cause for the problem you had. Then you fix the root cause. Then you won’t have that problem anymore.

That’s how you become a great manager.

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