How to Manage without Management Training

Is it possible to manage people without having experienced a formal training process?  Of course it is!  I would guess that 70% or more of today’s managers began managing without being trained, and many have yet to ever receive training.  Are they any good?  Some are and yet many more are not.

Back in the day I was promoted to a management role because I was a subject matter expert.  I knew how to perform the duties of the position, yet I had never managed a staff.  How hard could that be?  I found out that it was the hardest part of the new job!

Over the years prior to the first management promotion I had been lucky to have worked for several really good managers.  I tried to figure out what made their management style work and kind of fashioned my own style from the best of the best.  I also over the years have worked for some really awful managers.  The ones that Hell released back into the workforce to wreak havoc on society.  I probably learned more from these wonders about what to avoid.  Meshing the two sets of traits, I got by.

Years later I found myself in a trainer role at a bank that prided itself on employee development.  We developed operational skills, sales and service and technical skills.  But we also spent a lot of time on interpersonal communications and management/leadership development.  I loved this kind of training because it gave what I had tried to figure out on my own, some order and process.

Later I found myself moving from the individual contributor role in training to a chance to lead a training function as the Chief Learning Officer.  I never gave the managing part of the job a second thought.  Once in the role, my early background and time training others, all came together.  I had a great team of people in training, and we pulled many a rabbit out of the hat because we supported each other.

Can you manage without management training? Yes, but I have to ask you, why would you want to do it the hard way like I did?

Gossiping is Simply Not Good

It goes on in every organization, and it is not just the bottom row that does it.  Gossiping about other people seems to be a corporate pass time that happens everywhere.  But does it need to happen in your organization?

While on sight at an organization recently, I overheard two people talking about their manager, and how his management style was lacking.  That was all I could stand to listen too, as I find this kind of activity a waste of time and lacks productivity.  Later it started to bother me because I realized that one of these people was a manager.

Yes, I put managers on some kind of pedestal that they need to act better than the rank and file.  In my mind, managers need to model the behaviors they are always preaching they want, and when they chastise people for gossiping and then do it themselves I want to cringe.  Working with HR, I commented without naming names on what I had seen, and nearly lost my teeth when the response was a validation of what they were talking about, not that they were gossiping.

Yikes, the problem is deeper than I thought.  Because if you think I put managers on a pedestal, HR folks are supposed to be even better role models in my mind.  Yet at this company the guards and inmates are on the same side of the fence.  Not a whole lot of hope for changing things until a “leader” steps up and demands better actions.

Gossiping is at its core negative and hurtful, and as fellow employees we should be more supportive.  If I was working for this company, I can tell you that I would have chatted with these employees about making better use of conversations.  You can bet that the formal policy at this company is all about treating everyone with respect.  Yet, we must walk that talk too.

How do you handle gossiping at your company?  Do you ignore it, participate, or do you try to change behaviors?

Employees As Customers

I wish there was some statistic that I could draw from that shows how many employees are customers of their employer, but if we look at the food, service and retails worlds I would say it is a very high percentage.  So with companies that go out of their way to make sure that the customer experience is everything it should be to promote positive word of mouth, why do they treat employees like disposable items?

These industries I’ve mentioned hire a lot of part-time employees, many on the promise of 20 hours a week or more on average.  They have a ton of applicants, and they find good matches for their hiring needs.  Then once employees learn the job, some quit because it wasn’t what they expected and then the hiring begins again.  Yet somewhere in the middle of this cycle the company has reduced the hours from 20 to 10 to spread out the actual staffing needs.  They over hired and under employed from the beginning.

Okay, it would be one thing to see that you over hired, and thus instead of letting people go, you simply reduced everyone’s hours to spread out the fairness.  However, why would you hire to replace the exiting employees?  Now is the time to increase hours for those that are qualified, trained and like their jobs!

Instead, by hiring new people who need hours to learn the job, you continue to hold back hours on your “good employees” and then they quit and go to work else ware.   And when they quit, they also take all the good will the company ever created and leave it at the door too.

These former employees are no longer loyal subjects.  They don’t have a lot to say about you that is positive and they have a lot of friends and family to complain to.  Although they never experienced bad customer service, the employment experience has left a bad taste.  I can’t support a company that treats employees like disposable items.  I simply do not patronize any company that is like this.  And because of family and friends that have been mistreated by these customers, I no longer eat at 4 different restaurants, and shop at 3 different retail stores that at one time were all on my preferred list.  Why should I reward these companies with my business when they have treated my family and friends as disposable?

Companies need to focus on their employees and the relationship they have with them at least to the same degree if not better than they focus on their customer relationship.  Negative feedback hurts sales, no matter where it comes from.

Parent Mentoring

I reviewed a great class on this week on “Being a Step-Mom” and earlier this week I had finished an article in CLO Magazine on Mentoring in the workplace.  I got to thinking about how mentoring is often a subject of conversation, and sometimes actual action, in the workplace, but what about at home?

While my wife and I thank our lucky stars for our own parents being around to mentor us as parents, neither of them were adoptive parents like we are.  Our kids are grown now, but I sure wish we had found people in our list of friends and family that had adopted.  We had a lot of sage parenting advise given to us, that unfortunately didn’t always fit given the dynamics of adoptive children.  Of course the irony is we have found several people much later that were adoptive parents too that would have been nice to know several years ago.

The course on being a step-mom was designed to partake of lessons learned so that future step-moms could avoid some of the headaches this instructor experienced.  This is first rate mentoring, and why it got me to thinking about how parents at all stages of parenting could benefit from a mentor.

If anyone has any ideas on how I could take this spark of an idea and run with it, I would welcome the conversation.  Reach out to me at and let’s set up a time to brain-storm!