- June 1, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: management, manufacturing
There’s a leadership problem in this country that often has to do with people being promoted because of their technical expertise and not their leadership qualities or people skills. They assume they’re a leader simply because their job title says Manager or Director, only to find that no one respects them. I think of this as “the office makes the person.”
For example, you can have a good salesperson be promoted to sales manager, and end up getting the worst of both worlds. Not only is he not selling, but he hasn’t learned the necessary skills to be a good leader. As a result, he’s just issuing instructions and doesn’t engender enthusiasm in the people who report to him.
The only way our new sales manager can get anything done is to bully and cajole the people below him, since he’s never been able to get the staff to buy into his vision or work toward something greater than themselves. Here’s an example I had to deal with.
When I was at Robroy Industries, we consistently had material management problems, which affected our service very badly and drove up our inventory counts and costs. The people who led the department were, in the final analysis, totally unqualified for their positions. They were also disengaged in terms of the things that needed to be done. The office made the person.
Materials management is more than just ordering raw materials, it’s scheduling the production to meet the sales forecast and customer demand. Because if customer demand for, say, pens are not high this month, you don’t want to make a lot of pens. But if the demand for coffee cups is high, you’d better make a load of coffee cups. A good materials manager knows how to read the projected forecasts and customer orders to know when it’s time to make coffee cups and when it’s time to make pens, and the best time to order raw materials for both.
Our materials managers had represented to us that they were qualified and professional in materials handling, but in point of fact and practice, they were not. Instead, they would use their positional power to basically bully and subordinate the people around them, until I finally got tired of that and got rid of these managers.
Then I promoted a woman who was already in the organization to the materials manager position, and she turned out to be an absolute wizard at the job. The people who were there before were not respected by their peers or even by the vendors, and they didn’t do a thing to solve the operational problems that existed. By identifying the problem that was the core issue, and promoting the person who excelled at the position, she became one of the most popular people in the building by virtue of the fact that she made everybody’s life easier. We let the person make the office, and it made all the difference in the world.
She became the leader of the materials management department because of her capabilities, and because she inspired the people around her to do their best work. In essence, she made the office. She did not let the office make her, or assume an attitude of superiority conferred by her position. Instead, people were willing to follow her lead, buy into her vision, and help us turn the company around and become more profitable. Eventually, thanks to her skill set, attitude, and aptitude, she became operations manager for the organization.
Do you have problems with the office making the person? Or do you let the most qualified person make the office? I can help with staffing and operational issues your company may be facing. I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo Credit: CTsabre14 (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0)