Managing managers: Find ways to add more personal value
Managing multi-tiered teams takes much more than a simple quantitative adjustment. An entirely new rapport must be created with the organization to add value in the new role.
Managing managers is difficult. In addition to organizational matters of dealing with larger teams and handling more information on broader topics, the main issue is adopting the right stance.
Indeed, leaders tend to run into two major pitfalls when they begin to manage other managers. The first is to want to keep an active hand in the field, at the risk of short-circuiting and disempowering the front-line managers on their team. The second is to serve merely as a conduit in the chain of command, and hence add very little value to the organization.
Excelling in front-line management does little to prepare senior managers for the delicate balancing act of learning to leverage other managers. To successfully make the transition, newly-promoted senior managers may have to make their peace with giving up some of the activities that have been a source of personal pride, such as using technical expertise and closely interacting with operational staff. At the same time, leaders recently placed in charge of several intermediate layers of managers must make sure the management chain does not isolate them from the realities in the field.
Based on observation, highly-effective managers of managers appear to be distinguished by three simple rules of conduct:
- Manage the distance with your teams. Continuously test and adjust the right distance between yourself and local managers to leave them enough space without completely losing touch with the field.
- Focus on helping others succeed rather than on your own success. Your role is primarily to provide your team members with the means to succeed and help them get the best from their subordinates.
- Capitalize upon your visibility. Although you cannot see each employee individually, you are under their continuous scrutiny. Use this as a change driver.
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