Priorities of the manager role

Priorities of the manager role



When we see patterns of highly qualified people from across all industries making poor decisions in relation to how they communicate and manage people, we suspect that there is also a wider issue related to poor selection and development processes for managers across the country. That is, a bad habit of promoting highly technical people into roles they really can’t cope with.

Not every worker is motivated to become a manager. Not every worker is destined to ‘one day’ be a manager. A recurring theme in workplace investigations conducted by iHR Australia is that organisations continue to struggle with employees high in technical expertise being promoted into leadership roles and failing to perform in people management.  

It happens across all industries; managers who can’t lead getting themselves into hot water because they can’t or don’t make people leadership a priority in their role.

The challenge for organisations is to balance the need for technical expertise and an inherent respect for people leadership skills as a necessity in order to motivate, align, support, guide, discipline and even personally support team members.  

In a 2017 Damages Case, conducted in the Supreme Court of Queensland, a list of alleged ‘damaging’ management behaviours included:

  • Unjustified, loud and aggressive disciplining and belittling of a female employee in public and in front of other employees on multiple occasions.
  • Failing to inform the employee of allegations against her, and failing to provide those allegations in writing despite repeated requests for this to occur.
  • Isolating the employee on many occasions, including failing to address her reasonable queries, and failing to meet her when she requested private discussions.
  • Humiliating the employee by making substantive decisions about her employment and communicating these decisions to staff without first consulting or advising her.

The fact that the Court awarded the complainant over $1.7 million in damages is not the point here. The reality that such behaviours are prevalent across industries throughout Australia is our real focus. Senior Workplace Investigator, Verena Marshall, says “There is often found in organisations an ‘unconscious’ assumption that technical expertise translates to management expertise. While technical expertise can supplement competence in managing people, it cannot substitute for it.”

The first step for organisations to remedy this recurrent situation is an altered mindset. According to iHR Australia Managing Director, Stephen Bell, organisations must first and foremost treat the role of the ‘people manager’ as the “premiere profession in the organisation”. Elaborates Bell “Managing people is a profession. A key part of this profession is that you need common sense in relation to how you treat the people who work for you”.  That “common sense” is often tied to emotional intelligence-related skills, such as listening before you talk, expressing concern for an employee’s personal circumstances, or highlighting shortfalls in performance in a constructive and helpful manner rather than a demeaning tone.

Enquire today about iHR Australia’s Leadership and Management Training Programs.