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Are You Ready to Be a Manager?

by Alexander Wollboldt 20/10/2017

Here I am in my new job as a manager in a quite reputable, “looks-nice-to-me” company with a greatly advertised career-outlook hiring promise. I have managed to find the right answer to the question “How to apply for a manager position” and mastered the job interview. My profile matched perfectly with the job requirements and I am excited to get productive together with my team of eight professionals, a mix of seasoned specialists and young professionals, who are eagerly waiting for me to turn on the “start” button. I tell myself: “So now, where are the problems, bring them up?!” and I continue explaining to myself: “Just use the templates that have worked for you in your previous job as team leader!” However, after the first few weeks into my new job I realize that things have been handled differently before I popped up here on stage and on top of it my supposedly “fire-proof” processes are not adopted the way I was expecting by my team members. Do I push for it anyways and risk to be perceived as micro-, dictator-, terminator- manager? So I go back to some guiding questions that had been discussed and reflected on during my career counseling sessions:


Do existing processes lead to improved productive outcomes?

Instead of trying to fit people into processes wouldn’t it be a better approach to ask first if existing processes as they are implemented in an organization lead to a productive outcome or not, or if they can even be improved and thus lead to much better results? The next question to be asked is who has been involved in using these processes or particular routines within a job? Then ask yourself, are those individuals productive using the processes, or are they only average. And if so, how can you as a manager now identify obstacles or gaps that prevent an individual to excel in what she is doing? Is it just because there is a misunderstanding, misalignment of organizational goals and objectives or is that individual maybe placed into an area that doesn’t allow her to use her talents the way they are most effective?


Identifying gaps caused through different perspectives

The above questions can only be answered by understanding the perspectives of each individual player! And this leads us to the next step that might be worth being looked at: Is there an alignment between our personal-, the individual team members- and organizational (e.g. company owner or main shareholders) aspirations to drive the business and do we understand in all cases where those aspirations come from? In other words, as an organizational leader one needs to dig much deeper than just scratching the surface of efficiency or critical processes that are normally looked at first when viewing from the outside. Because those are all outcome related matters. Those are the things “what” people do, but it will not answer to the question “why” people do certain things which is a behavioral rather than a strategic or structural question.


Personal and Organisational Alignment

In order to explore the “why’s” we need to align ourselves first with the organisational core values, mission, purpose and vision. Ideally, that has been done before accepting the position in an organisation e.g. together with your career guidance counsellor or coach. Once this alignment is acknowledged then the same should be done together with all the work team members, as they form the support vessels that allow the company to sustain and grow. As you could picture the organisation like a tree, whereas the roots and the soil represent the basis, the life-supporting parts that distinguishes if the whole organism is fundamentally healthy or not and the trunk and branches are the outcome parts, the critical processes that carry the fruits. So it’s worth spending quite some time with your team first to understand and make sure that this alignment is established. From there you, as a manager and leader will be able to make decisions that make sense to everyone and should already sufficiently address the question on how to make processes fit the team members by allowing them to use these in the way that they will drive them to achieve improved outcomes rather than the other way around.


Create an impact as a manager!

Of course the above described approach is just a start to have an impact as a manager in an organization. It might not create sudden visible outcomes but it will definitely pave the way towards a higher team engagement with all positive outcomes attached. And, to think of it, isn’t this exactly the reason why you were hired into this managerial role in the first place? Create this impact in your role, design your unique employee branding with it!


Identify and Focus hidden potential to drive your success

The widest spread industrial business doctrines for over a century has been to pack everything into processes in order to avoid mistakes, especially human mistakes. My generation (X and Y) and my parents’ and their parents’ had been educated that way only to find out especially after the 2009 global financial melt-down that business cannot sustain without a deep foundation which is found in the motivation of individuals who contribute to a greater matter than just their own. In summary, instead of going into a managerial job with the mindset of a universal problem solver the better bet for success is to look at the job as a facilitator for unleashing hidden potential and opportunities coming from the very existing human values drivers of that company. So when accepting such a job any career guidance counselor would probably advise you that instead of trying to fix weaknesses first you might rather try to understand where those are coming from. At the same time focusing on building strengths and creating positive collaborative outcomes, as described above, will lead to overall success of the organisation as well as your own in the role as manager!    

Alex Wollboldt is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), – Consultant (CMC) and Gallup Strengths Coach and has a decade of corporate professional history as Finance Head and Director in manufacturing and service industries in different locations such as Germany, Japan and the Philippines. He is a founding partner at Wissen Solomon, a business consultancy that provides businesses through consulting and coaching expertise in the area of digitization, marketing, finance, operations and organizational development. Alex also acts as co-director for OSG Global Consultancy taking care of various areas involving private equity investments, financial advisory, M&A mostly in the Philippines and other South East Asian countries.

Alexander Wollboldt

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