The role of managers is to help people perform at their best. Their job is to support, coach and challenge. We all know from personal experience that some managers are great at this, and that others aren't.
Bad management undermines morale, creates stress, reduces productivity and causes companies to lose some of their best people. A massive problem but there is a simple solution: Let people choose their managers. If they don't like the one they've got now, let them decide who they want instead.
Check out some of the research: There is the recent study from CMI that found that 47% of respondents left their last role because they were badly managed. There is the recent US survey that found that employees spend 19 hours a week (13 at work, 6 at home) worrying about "what a boss says or does". And there is the CIPD Employee Outlook report that found employee satisfaction in the UK at an all time low.
People see their manager as very important to them. The CMI study found that 49% would be prepared to take a pay cut if it meant working with a better manager.
Choose Your Manager
At some of the best companies to work for, that simply isn't necessary. At Gore (makers of Gore-Tex) staff (or partners as they call themselves) can choose their manager from anybody in the company. At my company, Happy, you can choose your 'co-ordinator' and change them if you would prefer somebody else.
When, at a recent awards ceremony, the host mentioned that at Happy people chose their managers the audience interrupted into a spontaneous round of applause. People know it makes sense. People can see that it would make their lives better, and more productive, if they could choose the right manager for them.
To put this into practice, there may need to be some changes in organisation. Most managers play a dual role. On the one hand they are responsible for strategy and decision-making. On the other they provide the support and challenge to people. Split those two roles (because they need very different skill-sets) and it becomes possible to let people choose their manager.
Please don't read this and forget it. Spread the idea. Let's end the archaic idea that the company knows what's best for you and should decide who manages you. Let people decide for themselves.
Watch this space. I will be blogging with more ideas, more explanations and more examples of this in practice.
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