Why Do So Many Managers Forget They’re Human Beings?

Old-school ideas of what it means to be a manager have become entrenched in business, and these roots are causing more harm than good for the soil. The argument is being made that, in the coming future, great management will depend upon “unlearning management and relearning being human.” In an article for Harvard Business Review, Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, and Vince Brewerton discuss how managers can rejoin the human race.

One Step Back for Man

Research indicates that 70 percent of leaders think of themselves as inspiring and motivating, but the authors liken this statistic to how the majority of people also think of themselves as great drivers. In other words—everybody is delusional. In fact, one survey of 1,000 workers found that “65% say a better boss would make them happy while 35% choose a pay raise.” A competent boss is valued more highly than pay increases.

The Harvard authors say managers should focus on doing these four things in order to improve their performance:

  • Be personal.
  • Be self-aware.
  • Be selfless.
  • Be compassionate.

You could respond, “Well, duh,” to these recommendations, but then again—are you really embodying each of these qualities? For instance, the authors say this about being personal:

Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry Wehmiller, a global manufacturing company, and author of Everybody Matters, has gone to great lengths to instill truly human leadership within the company. For all decisions being made, that has impact on employees, he asks himself: If my child or parent or good friend worked here, would they appreciate this decision? In this way he makes any managerial decision a personal question. He moves it from a tactical domain to an emotional domain, to make sure he is not blindsided by his status and power. Try the same when making decisions affecting your people. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine they are family members or friends.

The rest of the tips fall along similar lines. Be mindful of your strengths and limitations as a manager. Ask yourself if the actions you are taking are to help your team or to just help yourself. Employees know when their boss really has their backs, and they appreciate it and work better as a result.

For additional thoughts, you can view the original article here:

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