Why Managers Fail
and What Can Be Done About it
Successful managers generally start off as exceptional individual
contributors who then worked their way upward. This is obvious.
What is less obvious is why high-potential managers fall by the
way side later in their careers.
Smart, hard-working people usually do well working individually
or leading smaller-sized groups and, as a result, ascend organizations
quickly. It is only once such people oversee larger numbers of
people does the risk of downfall become more likely.
Managers may still be able to achieve results that are
expected of them but the key is whether they can do so by working
through other people. If a manager has bull-dozed over the authority
and feelings of others to obtain his results, then the person may
not be suitable for senior management where building consensus
and being inclusive to stakeholders is important.
That is not to say that people who can get results will
necessarily be eliminated from the organization -- although
that is often the case when the harm caused to relationships are
serious enough. Such people are often kept to implement special
projects and to oversee narrow focus areas where their
get-it-done-at-any-cost skills are important. But, it is clear
that managers who cannot achieve results through others and with
the support of others will
usually be excluded from senior management positions.
Below are reasons most often responsible for holding back or
stopping the senior management careers of otherwise
high-potential leadership people.
An overly expanded
ego is one of the most common reasons for career failure. The
characteristic is familiar to most people. A sharp, hard-driving
person initially achieves noticable success and is recognized by the
organization as a high-potential manager. Over time, the person begins
to think very highly of himself and dismissively about the
abilities of others. Gradually, the high-potential manager loses
support for his projects from key stakeholders whose backing he
needs and gradually becomes ineffective. Some of his efforts are
even sabotaged by people who feel harmed or threatened by the person's
behaviour. Unless the high-potential manager can tame his
conceit, he will find himself limited in upside within his
current organization and most others.
Promoted Too Soon
It is not uncommon for talented people to be promoted quickly.
This is especially the case in Asia over the past decade where
growth rates have been stellar and demand for people who can
manage others is
desperate. It is common to see young managers promoted to
relatively senior levels while still in their twenties.
Unfortunately, their skills may not have had time to develop to
world-class levels and performance begins to degrade. At the
same time, their expectations for continuous promotions expands. The result is that a severe mismatch
abilities and expectations develops that can
end in disaster if not addressed.
This is an easy to
understand reason for non-success. Anyone who was previously
designated as a high-potential manager but fails to meet his
targets repeatedly won't be considered high-potential for
negative development with high-potential managers is over
emphasis on themselves and their own initiatives. Since they are
so focused on their own goals, high-intensity people can often
fail to build reciprocal relationships with stakeholders in and
out of the organization. Over time, they lose support for their
initiatives and effectiveness declines.
Sometimes a person
becomes labelled as a high-potential manager because he has been
successful in a specific type of function. One not uncommon
example in Asia is in the set-up of new operations. This is a
critically important and very complex capability that will
gain a lot of recognition when done well. Some people are able
to master this task and they thrive on the excitement and
autonomy that goes with it. Sometimes such people are not able
to settle down to run a day-to-day business since they crave the
excitement and newness of start-ups. Other examples are people
with strong specific ability in sales or finance who cannot
develop the skills required for other areas.
Senior Management Success
When assessing management level candidates, the 3 questions that
are needed to be answered are:
1. Did the candidate exceed
2. What lasting value did he build for the organization?
3. Who did he develop?
In interviews, candidates often focus mainly on showing they met
or exceeded their financial outcomes and Key Performance
Indicators (item #1 above). While this is certainly very
important, it is just as important to understand how they
achieved their results. If business colleagues or client
relationships were sacrificed to get the outcomes or their
groups self-destructed after the manager left their
organizations, then he
may not be able or interested to create lasting value.
Clearly, it is important to be able to recognize behaviour that
will destroy otherwise talented people's career. In many
cases, it is possible and desirable to try to correct bad
behaviour. This is especially so in fast-growth countries like
those of Asia where the supply of qualified managers is
constrained relative to demand. As well, Asian managers are
often more open to following the guidance of more experienced
The usual steps to take are as follows:
1. Discuss the problem directly
with the manager.
2. Set aside regular time to mentor the person to change the bad
3. Reassign the person to a place where he can do less harm if
resolution requires an extended commitment of time.
It is always easiest to solve the problem when it is first
noticed rather than waiting until a monster is created that must
then be slayed.
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A global manager's failsafe
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throughout the world call upon the Principals of Chalre Associates for thought leadership.
Below are some examples of published material written by our
consultants or international journalists who refer to them. For a complete list of published work,
Getting Ready For The
Deluge: Outsourcing in Philippines
Chalre Associates senior staff
Economist Intelligence Unit of the Economist magazine
asked Chalre Associates' Chairman, Richard Mills,
to write a chapter about the Philippine outsourcing sector
in its annual Business Guide Book. The material
provides a Executive Briefing on the progress and major
issues facing this industry that is certainly one of most
significant growth stories in the world.
Asia Pacific Mining
Conference 2007 - Report
Chalre Associates senior staff
The 7th Asia Pacific Mining Conference put on by the Asean
Federation of Mining Associations was perhaps the largest
such event in the region. Richard Mills, Chairman of Chalre Associates
gave this report on what was said by the prominent mining
people who presented.
State of BPO in Philippines: Dan Reyes Speaks
Chalre Associates senior staff
Mills, Chairman of Chalre Associates,
interviewed Dan Reyes of Sitel for ComputerWorld (US) recently to get
his views on the state of the BPO industry in Philippines. Dan
presented US readers with compelling information to support his view
that Philippines is currently seen as the "Number 1" option by global
companies sending BPO work to offshore destinations.
Dan Reyes is easily one of most experienced Business Process
Outsourcing (BPO) managers in the Asia Pacific region and the world. He
is head of the extremely successful Philippine operations of Sitel, the
world's largest call center organization. Among other things, he is a
founder and former president of the Business Processing Association of
the Philippines. more