Last week I did a post on the Seven Diseases of Middle Management. I will now explore each disease in a bit more detail. This post focuses on Managerial Amnesia.
Disease: Managerial Amnesia
When it comes to amnesia sufferers, middle managers outnumber soap opera stars. Managerial Amnesia causes the manager to be unclear about what they are supposed to do and how they should act. Others may describe them as being in over their heads or say that they just don´t get it. Managers with this disease are in some way not fully taking on the role of middle manager. Sometimes, the manager knows better but has chosen to behave differently. In other cases, the manager is unaware, unclear, or does not understand what is expected of him or her.
This is a serious disease because it stems from the fundamental beliefs we hold about our job and our capabilities. These beliefs determine our behaviors and results. Of all the middle management diseases, Managerial Amnesia has the potential to do the most damage because of its wide reaching effects. It is the most difficult middle management disease for managers to acknowledge. Once recognized, though, it is one of the easiest to cure.
Symptoms may include
Passed up for promotions.
High turnover in the department.
Lack of candor and idea sharing.
Blaming others for departmental failings – a need to CYA.
Lots of stress and burnout in the department.
Manager is a poor role model – does not represent the company or management well.
Most important: Sufferers of Managerial Amnesia will have little success at changing until they see they have a problem.
Take a fresh look at the role of middle manager.
Adopt beliefs consistent with desired results.
Become a role model of ownership and proactivity.
Ask for coaching from a well regarded middle manager.
Get back on a learning curve – read Peters, Covey, Ray, and Haneberg (:-)
Example: I have known many managers with Managerial Amnesia. They just don´t get it that they are the ones who are supposed to be great role models and take the initiative to make things better. Other than the specific technical skills they possess or the history they have with a company, there would be little negative impact if tomorrow they were no longer in their roles – because they don´t make things happen. AND they often hold other great people back or are a poor influence. This guy I knew was able to take a perfectly good manager and ruin him or her in a month or two!
Summary: It is understandable why some shy away from taking on the role of middle manager. It´s a tough job. That being said, it is even more difficult to do the job well without fully embracing the role. To understand this distinction, an examination of the whole role, warts and all, is helpful. Although it is difficult to be a middle manager, the job can also be very satisfying.