Why Managers Become Less Nurturing As They Climb Up?

Today I’m going to tell you about a strange thing that can happen to a manager as he climbs up the corporate ladder. Let’s suppose a guy gets to be a manager and then he decides to move up to being an executive vice president. What happens as he does this? Well, as far as I can tell, something like this usually occurs:

His job starts getting more and more complicated. He has to start doing a lot of things he didn’t have to do before. For example, let’s say he’s in charge of a division and he has 50-100 people working for him. OK, what he used to do is pretty much take care of all the “mundane” details of running his division such as meeting clients, vet through proposals, working on board papers, hiring and firing people, dealing with labor problems, dealing with insurance problems, evaluating staffs claims, and so forth.

On the other hand, now that he’s an EVP (Executive Vice President) he becomes responsible for overseeing everything done by his division. In other words, he has to start worrying about things like how the product is designed, how it’s produced, what kinds of markets his products are sold into, how the markets are penetrated, how the products are promoted, budgeting, staffs issues, bickerings, pilferage rates, next year target, innovation, new ideas, strategies, his own bosses and so on. Let’s say he has a staff of 10 to assist him in doing this. What usually happens is those 10 people become less and less effective over time. Why? Because first of all, they get burned out just doing the routine chores mentioned above.

Well, by the mid year, it starts getting a lot more challenging and less motivating to you. You get burned out. What usually starts happening is these people who used to be assistants to the manager become “lurkers” until they too, get “burned out.” At that point, they either leave or are “lurked” by some other person who thinks they’re no longer needed. The result is a loss of expertise, knowledge, and ability within the organization.

Positively, there’s also a loss of morale. People start wondering why they should continue to work hard when their efforts don’t seem to be appreciated. Does all this sound a little cynical and negative? I guess it does a little. Let me back up a bit and give you some positive stuff that may actually inspire you. What usually happens (when this kind of situation arises) is that the person who becomes the “go-to guy” for his or her particular area of expertise will end up having to deal with much more complexity than ever before. This often means the person must develop new skills, become more intelligent, and in general, perform at a much higher level than ever before.

Executives and managers can transform the way they work through new knowledge acquisition via training, reading, coaching, role modeling and many other ways. In organization where new knowledge acquisition is valued, you will notice the employees are much more nurturing compared to one without. However, these methods often shortlived if the top management are behaving the opposites of what being taught. For example, if the employees is being trained to value ideas but when in real work settings ideas are ridiculed, the learning from the training and coaching will diminished and soon forgotten. 

This is also true for any teaching that takes place after the employees has observed the top management’s behavior. If the top management is consistently acting as models for what a good leader should be, the learning will be far more effective than trying to teach by methods used in lower management or even the top executives themselves.

Training alone is not enough.

If you only teach people one thing and then test them on that one thing, you can be sure they will underperform. Organizations need to constantly train and retrain their employees for ever increasing changes. But this can only be done effectively with a consistent top management role model. And, this must happen on a continuing basis.

In brief, it places an enormous amount of pressure on this individual which causes him or her to get much more out of life. The positive aspect of all this is that this pressure causes people to get far more out of life. And isn’t that one of the major goals of all this? To make people’s lives better? To make them more productive so they can have a more meaningful life? To help them grow in wisdom and capability so they can handle the complex problems they’ll be faced with in the future? Well, anyway, all this has the effect (which is good) of making these people much more capable, much more knowledgeable, much more skillful, and much more intelligent. And thus, much more valuable to the organization.

You have a choice to become the lousy manager or a nurturing ones. In my experiences, the impact you’ve made to others last a lifetime. Choose the one that you will cherish even after you no longer around. 

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