3 Signs You’re Not Growing as a Manager

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Unless your career progressed through a formal management-training program, chances are you became good at your chosen vocation, matured as a businessperson and were promoted into management by default.

People are often promoted into management because many executives believe it’s easier to learn management skills than domain knowledge. That means a lot of managers know quite a bit about what their companies do, but have no idea how to manage people.

Unless managers take it upon themselves to seek out continuing education and treat management as a professional practice, they can become mired in the minutiae of daily, non-management details and wreak havoc on their direct reports, as well as the rest of the organization for which they work.

The following are three signs you’ve fallen into this trap and not growing as a manager. If you recognize any of these signs, it might be time to take a personal inventory and make some changes.

You spend too much time defending your methods and tools

Whatever you do for a living, there are processes, methods and tools you use to get the job done. It’s natural for professionals to debate the relative worth of the most current and innovative way of doing things.

Some personalities lean toward tradition and others lean toward the bleeding edge. But, you can’t even join the debate unless you stay current on what’s going on in your profession.

If there’s a growing shortage of people who use the tools or processes you use, you’re in danger of being isolated. Commit to regular online learning sessions to learn about alternative methods, even if it’s to help prepare better arguments for the traditional methods you currently use.

Better yet, carve out time to study and practice those alternative methods and learn how to use new tools. Your colleagues will recognize your open mind and not only listen to you more objectively, but will more likely want you on their team.

You spend too much time mired in details

Have you ever been in a situation in which showing someone how to do something takes longer than just doing it yourself? All managers face that situation every day, but good managers take the time to teach others.

If you’re always doing tactical work you could be training others to do, you’re not growing as a manager. In fact, you’re shrinking your career while shrinking the opportunities of others around you.

It’s selfish, shortsighted and should be limited to emergencies. And, if you’re working in a constant emergency, you should step back and assess what you’re doing wrong and fix it.

Your prolonged absence would cause a serious outage

Everyone wants the satisfaction of doing a good job and adding value. But, that’s different than purposefully making yourself a gateway to critical processes and information to the point that an organization can’t operate properly in your absence.

That’s not sustainable and is an organizational weakness the market will eventually punish. You should always be grooming your replacement, continually imparting your domain knowledge and unique understanding of plans, processes and methods to multiple trusted employees and co-workers.

And, you should be transparent about it and speak about it openly. Everyone goes on vacation, a bus can hit anyone, and your whole team should be putting their eyes on everything to continually make it better.

Smart executives recognize and reward this kind of confident business stewardship with promotions and longevity. If they don’t you have to question why you want to work for them.

Good managers remain curious and open to new ideas and methods. They teach the people who work for them to make them successful. And, they’re always seeking and training their replacement for the benefit of the organization and so they’re always prepared to progress.

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  1. Hi Scott!

    Enjoyed reading your article. This point especially stood out to me “If you’re always doing tactical work you could be training others to do, you’re not growing as a manager.”

    I think it’s hard to find balance in figuring what to pass off to the new hire so that I can be freed up to grow in other areas. Thanks for sharing 🙂


    • Thanks for your great comment, Sally. I really appreciate it. I know exactly what you mean about finding that right balance. The only advice I can give is blocking out enough time and developing trust with your people so you have a genuine understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. It also requires room and trust from those you report to, so when your people make inevitable mistakes, you’re given enough room to correct and train. It requires space and trust all the way up and down the reporting structure. Thanks again and please stay in touch. ~ Scott


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