For several years I worked for a giant, multi-national company. During that time, I was fortunate to see firsthand how the company worked to instill its values in employees all over the world across a number of industries. They wanted everyone to share a fundamental understanding of good governance and personal integrity. So, the company launched a series of training programs to help managers live up to the goals it had set.
Some of the training programs were done in person. Many were online. They covered sexual harassment, discrimination, insider trading, workplace violence, anti-trust issues and other topics. Most of them were very good, and by the time we were done, my peers and I thought all this training had made us pretty damn good managers.
But that wasn’t the purpose. This training wasn’t intended to make us better at managing our people. It was done to reduce the likelihood that we’d get the company into hot water.
Obviously, integrity and good governance are extremely important-they have benefits far beyond risk avoidance. And it’s extremely important to know the laws and best practices that keep you from getting yourself and your company into trouble. But those things alone don’t help anyone become a good manager.
We got training for managers.
We didn’t get training in management.
This isn’t unusual. I know of very few companies that help managers, particularly new ones, understand what it takes to be a strong manager.
Where Training Falls Short
I don’t know of any company that teaches managers how to manage a boss, or how to nurture the character traits that all good managers must have.
I’ve never seen a corporate training course that stresses keeping your ego in check or controlling your insecurities. As far as I know, no company teaches the importance of sharing credit with your team, or of communicating openly, honestly and frequently.
Yet those things are fundamental to building and managing a productive, focused team. They’re essential to fostering innovation and harnessing the full potential of each employee for the good of the company.
And managers who don’t embrace these fundamentals should not be managing people.
These can be difficult issues to discuss. As managers, we’re taught to focus on actions and deeds, not character traits like ego and insecurity. Yet those are the things that make the difference between good managers and jerk managers.
I don’t see companies solving this problem anytime soon. Until they do, it’s up to individual managers to realize there’s more to management than they know. It’s up to them to find the information they need, seek mentors, and try to get this right on their own.
To learn more about how to be a successful manager, read Don’t Be a Jerk Manager: The Down & Dirty Guide to Management. It’s the management training you never got, available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.
Do you think you might be a jerk manager? Take the quiz!
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