The Doer-Manager – The Struggle is Real
For the past 20 years I have had the privilege of coaching hundreds of managers and executives in just about every industry. There’s a lot of talk about leadership and what constitutes being a good leader. And one thing I know for sure is that people who are promoted to a higher-level position frequently struggle in their new role because they’re still holding on to duties of their old position. It doesn’t make any difference if the person was a supervisor and now a manager, manager and now director or VP or moving from VP to C-Suite – for many people, the struggle is real.
How can someone be a leader of the future when one foot is still firmly entrenched in past roles and responsibilities of a doer or manager?
I’ve had the opportunity to dissect this phenomenon and want to share my findings in a 2-part series. This first blog is focused on the realities of being a Doer-Manager.
The “Doer” Becomes a Manager
Many people are promoted to a higher-level position because they were really good at what they did
We all know, managers are supposed to manage people and processes…BUT Doers want to keep doing a lot of the functions of their old jobs.
Here are some of the reasons… aka excuses, that they have to continue doing functions of their old jobs. (Trust me, even VPs and CFOs, COOs and CEOs do this too…)
- They like doing the work
- It’s familiar and they’re more comfortable doing it
- Can do it faster than training someone
- Can do it better than anyone else
- It’s easier to do it than train someone else
- More confident doing old work than trying or doing new things.
The Doer’s Measurements of Success
Compound all that with the measures of success for the Doer. Most Doers are measured by:
- Quantity: e.g., # of sales, #of proposals, #of customer interactions, projects managed etc.
- Quality of work: how well the work was done.
- Technical expertise.
At the end of the day, Doers are rewarded or feel a sense of satisfaction based on their output or results produced.
The Doer/Manager’s Measure of Success
The problem for the Doer-Manager is that their measures of success are murky because they haven’t stopped doing their old job and are now expected to fulfill their new accountabilities.
They struggle with their measures of success on a daily, weekly or even long-term basis, because what they’re doing feels like it’s “never enough” or “not good enough.”
The Doer-Manager frequently says that they feel like they’re “surviving” or “trying to keep their head above water.”
When the Doer becomes a manager and continues doing their old work + tries to manage more complex work and/or more people, it backfires.
It backfires because the Doer-Manager:
- Is doing the work of 2+ people
- Feels overwhelmed, resentment, guilt, frustration
- Is thinking their staff has enough on their plates and can’t ask them to do more
- Doesn’t want people to think “they’re too good” to do that work now
- Thinks they’re leading by example by “pitching in.”
It backfires for the Staff of the Doer-Manager because:
- Staff isn’t learning
- Staff feels like there’s a wall between them and their Doer-Manager because:
- the Doer-Manager doesn’t share responsibility
- they think the Doer-Manager doesn’t care about their growth and development
- doesn’t trust them
- Staff becomes disengaged.
It backfires for the Doer-Manager’s Boss because:
- The boss is disappointed that the Doer-Manager isn’t stepping up to new responsibilities
- The boss questions their choice for filling this position
- The boss can’t get through to the doer/manager that they have to change the way they’re managing
- The boss spends a lot of time worrying they may need to replace this person.
Backfire: The Bottom Line:
- Accountability is lacking
- Everyone is frustrated
- A lot of time is wasted
- There’s a lot of “emotional wear and tear”
- There’s a lot of blame and excuses
- Turnover can result.
So, what are some things that the Doer-Manager should start doing immediately to be a better manager?
Well, it’s all the obvious answers: start delegating more, set goals with staff, give performance feedback, hold people accountable.
Note: These are the minimal expectations of a manager at any level at ANY organization. If a person aspires to be a leader in an organization, the first thing they need to do is give up doing the routine tasks and fully embrace managing people and processes.
To-Do List for the Doer-Manager
Every Doer loves a to-do list, so here you go – Do this:
- Identify the reasons, aka excuses, why you hold on to functions of your old job – be honest with yourself!
- Determine if these are really legitimate reasons to hold on to old tasks or perceptions.
- Determine what you are willing to give up? You can give up perceptions or tasks. Note: giving up or delegating is not abdicating responsibility.
- Identify how many items in the “backfire” scenarios resonate with you.
- Look in the mirror and ask yourself if you have the “GWC”:
- Do you “Get it?” Do you get that what you’re doing isn’t going to work in the long run?
- Do you “Want it?” Do you want to change to be more of a manager than a doer? And then, do you really want to be a leader, which is very different than being a manager?
- Do you “have the Capacity to do it.”
(“GWC” – from Traction – Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman)
Watch for Part 2 on how to be a Leader of the Future on May 15, 2019, which will include more on Capacity for leadership.
Marty Stanley, CSP, is a national speaker, executive coach and consultant on personal and organizational change. If you are ready to up-your-game to be a leader of the future – in your organization or in your industry, contact Marty today: 816-695-5453 www.alteringoutcomes.com firstname.lastname@example.org https://www.linkedin.com/in/martystanley
For a short video on Marty’s consulting services, click here.