If you’ve been in the human resources profession for more than, well, a day or two, you’re probably familiar with the following employee complaints:
- My boss plays favorites
- My boss doesn’t follow through on what he/she promises
- My boss doesn’t listen to concerns
- My boss doesn’t provide regular feedback
- My boss doesn’t keep me motivated
- My boss doesn’t help me develop
- My boss only provides negative feedback
That’s because these, according to a new CareerBuilder survey on management, are the most common gripes that employees have about their bosses.
Although these complaints can often be attributed to a clash of personality types or poor communication between workers and their supervisors, these leadership issues may also arise when an employee feels ill-prepared for a management position, which, according to the survey results, is pretty often. One-in-four managers polled said they weren’t ready to become a leader when they started managing others.
According to Dennis Kravetz, author of “Measuring Human Capital: Converting Workplace Behavior into Dollars,” it’s not surprising that some managers feel this way. “Any supervisory job is dramatically different from a non-supervisory role,” he says. “For example, non-supervisory engineers need to have a variety of technical engineering competencies, accountants need technical accounting competencies, etc. Employees are trained for this at the college level and their performance at a non-supervisory level is based on how technically competent they are in their field.”
On the other hand, Kravetz says, the competencies that make for a successful manager — like developing others, handling conflict and scheduling work — are primarily people-based. “The net result is that these people are often lost in the job of new supervisor,” he says.
Indeed, it seems that the areas most managers struggle with are primarily those that are people-centric. According to the survey, managers reported having the most trouble with the following:
- Dealing with issues between co-workers on my team – 25 percent
- Motivating team members – 22 percent
- Performance reviews – 15 percent
- Finding the resources needed to support the team – 15 percent
- Creating career paths for my team – 12 percent
Again, Kravetz says these results are to be expected. “[Management] literally is an entirely different job with entirely different competencies. As a consequence the new supervisor focuses on only the technical engineering and accounting work and they forget about being a supervisor and the many people issues that come up. This produces unhappy employees, and senior managers who are unhappy with the new manager,” he says.
So how can you ensure that your first time managers are competent? Here are a few tips.
1. Analyze leadership capacity before the promotion: Prior to offering a promotion, analyze the employee’s leadership skills by conducting a “simulation interview,” Kravetz says. “These interviews ask candidates how they would handle a number of hypothetical situations on the job that pertain to supervising others. You can’t fake the answers — you either know how to resolve staff conflict on a work team or you don’t.”