The incompetence of line managers

Joey Goodfellow joined the company five years ago as a machine operator. He then progressed through the ranks as a result of his enthusiasm, work ethic and general good nature to deputy supervisor and then, after a round of redundancies, he suddenly found himself line managing 25 other machinists.

Joey Goodfellow had experienced what so many of us either overtly or secretly desire in life – a bit of recognition for a job well done, a well deserved pay rise, a chance to show how you stand out from the crowd and an opportunity to demand respect from others.

But then Bill Mussels let a row spill over into a fight and Joey’s workforce is fragmented overnight. Then Stacey Syke’s productivity went through the floor as she escalated her regular ‘sick’ days to at least three a month. And Duncan Dolittle ended each day with ever more waste in the bin bucket than quality goods in the ‘good to go’ box. And to top it all Hector Hekkle kept summonsing him to the board room to give him lectures on reducing costs, tackling absence and teaching staff about who is the boss.

Joey Goodfellow clearly had two options: he could resign or he could stay and fail. So much for recognition, a well deserved pay rise, a chance to shine and an opportunity for respect…

But there might have been a third option, had his company understood that it has got to be one of the hardest jobs in the world to make the transition from operator to supervisor and that the role of the line manager in the modern world has got to be one of the most demanding roles ever created.

But as I don’t run a company that hovers on the sidelines watching mayhem unfold, here are my five top tips for supporting your newly appointed line managers:

  • Offer support
  • Ignore them when they say they don’t need it and instead insist on giving them support
  • Then give them some more support and throw a little coaching and training in
  • Talk to other more experienced managers about how they can support the ‘newbie’
  • And finally, absolutely hammer those who think its fun to stand by and watch ‘newbies’ sink or swim

Have a good day…

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