Just because someone has a title of manager doesn't mean that they are any good at managing people.


I'm exploring the idea that some people in the workplace are better suited to dealing with people than others in the workplace.  Anecdotally we all know this is true.  We've all had experiences with "that manager" that were awesome and "the other manager" that were dreadful.


I think people take jobs for a lot of different reasons.  Status, pay, perks, a chance to "stick it to" their enemies.  That's just a short list.  The list is probably as long and varied as the list of people.


In a lot of places people get promoted to the next level, the manager level, because their time in role at the previous level entitles them to some sort of "opportunity".  (Little did they - or you - know it was the opportunity to make you miserable!)


We call it career progression or career growth.  There is an assumption in business that time in role is a great preparation for "the next thing."  I think that we look at a body of experience and read into that capabilities that just aren't there.


So the person gets promoted and they are fundamentally not properly skilled to do a great job at the new role.  Frankly this isn't a problem that an excess of CBT courses can remedy.  Nor is it something that a week long leadership or manager class can address.


I'm not dismissing these training venues.  They can be very effective at imparting a set of skills.  Behaviors.  Response-reaction scenarios.  But they don't make a great manager.  Just because someone knows the words to say, doesn't mean they will be spoken in a way with the conviction to matter the way they should.


This issue isn't just a manager issue.  A person transitioning from Product to Process can have the same failure.  In fact we see it all the time.  People move on to the next job before they have the basic worldview or conviction to really do the job well.


This is why I say that the job title doesn't make the manager, or make them great.  We all know it because we've lived through the other scenario.  


What do you think?  Does getting the manager title confer something that compensates for not being the right person?  Or have you seen too many managers that managed more in a "color by numbers" fashion that was no fun to live through?  Leave your thoughts in a comment.


Photo courtesy of jpellgen