If you could choose your own boss, who would it be?

I was reading Training Journal earlier (www.trainingjournal.com) and an interesting idea was raised:

Henry Stewart of Happy People, an organisational development company, says that people should choose who manages them.

The essence of the idea is simple… people work better when they are engaged, challenged, trusted and, above all, when they feel good about themselves. Therefore, the best managers do all they can to get out of the way and let their teams get on with what they do best… the work.

And I agree.

You see, if workers get to choose their manager, the best managers will be able to pick and choose the best people for their teams and there will be a whole influx of talent to a particular job, location or function. Being a ‘good manager’ becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because you attract the best talent.

This is in much the same way as parents are willing to do almost anything to get into the catchment area of a good school.

The theory behind the schools league tables and, I presume, Henry Stewart’s idea too, is that the better managers will have the choice of the better team members, will get better rewards and this will entice every other manager to become better at what they do.

If team members can choose their managers we get very much closer to the position I think we should be working towards, which is this:

When you ask a classroom of nine year old children what they want to be when they grow you will get a variety of responses, none of which will be ‘I want to be a professional manager’.

And yet, the job of manager is a professional discipline; one that requires skill, dedication and knowledge just like any other role. And yet, management is often thrust on those least likely to make a success of it… those who are good at doing the job! It seems as though the thought process is ‘you are a good IT person. Therefore, you must be good at managing a department’.

This just isn’t the truth in most cases.

The other side of the coin is that ‘management training’ doesn’t usually begin until after a person makes it into the role… this is kind of like putting a scalpel in the hand of someone who has never performed an operation in their life and calling them a surgeon.

To move towards Henry Stewart’s golden age of management we need to do a number of things – let’s separate management from ‘doing’ and make it a professional discipline in its own right; something school leavers aspire to be. Let’s hone those management skills before someone takes up post and let’s start rewarding the best mangers for being ‘good managers’.

As a final note, it was interesting that, on the same web page, just a little further down, was this headline:

‘Bad untrained managers giving workers no choice but to quit.’

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