Why managers must have their people fight their own fires

As Australia enters the summer season, the unfortunate reality of bushfires again leaps into our consciousness.

All too often, the tragedy of these fires is compounded by how they start – at the hands of the very people who are supposed to prevent and extinguish them: volunteer firefighters.

In the business world, situations analogous to this – fortunately with not the same consequences – happen with disturbing frequency.

Let's say a manager takes on one of his or her people's problems (as they do regularly!). They quickly solve it... they're good at solving problems, that’s why they got promoted into management. But competence can be a double-edged sword as more people bring their problems to them. And sure, these are also mostly handled with ease. It makes them feel good; validates their existence and makes them feel needed as they see themselves as a 'super' problem solver.

What's happened here? The manager feels good, yes. Their people feel good, maybe. But what are the consequences of the manager's actions, especially longer term? Why is this a problem, and such a widespread one?

In 13 Fatal Errors Managers Make, Steve Brown makes the point, "Those who cannot conquer the need for affection never build strong productive people; consequently, their teams remain weak. You cannot build a strong team on weak individuals. The test of a manger is not how much their people need them but rather what can they do without the manager."

As a manager, think about your organizational development by ensuring your people are better able to fight their own fires. Not only does it build the team, it builds the future of the business.

Posted: 12/22/2009 10:47:32 AM by Andy Klein | with 0 comments
Filed under: development, manager, organisation
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