My dear colleagues of the interwebs, we all agree that the success of any organization is squarely dependent on its manager. We have seen organizations that were performing very well and then a new management comes in and they come crushing down.
In this article I want to give my version of what I think is the difference between competent and incompetent managers.
Competent managers are optimists and they think positively. They are honest, transparent and will delegate assignments to those in the organization who are most suitable for the assignments depending on their skills and expertise. They inspire even in high pressure situations and keep the team focused. They give credit where it is due, they encourage personal growth and they allow staff to learn from their mistakes rather than fear making mistakes. Competent managers show appreciation even for small achievements. They are mentors who help their juniors to excel and even become better than themselves. They treat staff fairly and equally. Remember the old quote by J.K. Rowling: “If you want to see the true measure of a man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”.
Incompetent managers are exactly the opposite and, therefore, cause disengagement and low performance in an organization. The telltale signs of the organization’s low performance start showing early. The disengaged members of staff do not care to tell management because they know that it is a sure ticket for them to be reassigned new duties so that they stop to be a pain in the neck.
Characteristics of incompetent managers include fear to take action even when the action that needs to be taken was obvious to all others. They delay taking any action claiming that they need more information, more options and more opinions. What they fail to know is that “a good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week”, a quote by George S. Patton.
Incompetent managers are lax in addressing staff disciplinary issues like getting to work late. Everybody in the organization does whatever they want. The issues then pile up to the extent that it becomes difficult to deal with them.
Incompetent managers believe in following procedure even when it is clear that it will delay action. They don’t know that rules and processes only exist to expedite work and managers are often confronted with situations where they have to find a solution “outside the box”.
Incompetent managers appoint candidates who are weak and who do not qualify or merit to head units that are crucial to the success of the organization. The end result is that the candidates are intimidated by the manager and the staff they head do not respect them. Competent managers succeed because they surround themselves with guys smarter than themselves and who will not fear to say what’s on their mind.
Incompetent managers will, instead of doing their job, concentrate on doing tasks that are irrelevant, such as attending meetings and workshops all over the place, tasks that could be delegated to people who are more competent and specialists in the various fields.
Incompetent managers never honor deadlines, even those that they have set themselves. They will call for a meeting at nine o’clock in the morning and appear at eleven o’clock, not even bothered by the fact that senior staff arrived for the meeting at nine o’clock and have wasted time waiting for their manager. Incompetent managers have no strategy or work plan and therefore do not care where they are going. It was Lewis Caroll who once said that “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there”.
Incompetent managers do not mentor their juniors to excellence. The reason for this seems to be fear of competition. Fear that those whom they mentor will become better than them and eventually take over their jobs.
Incompetent managers are addicted to consultants, probably because they do not want to think or to make decisions. They would rather spend money to hire consultants to figure things out for them while they, in the meantime, do nothing. They will then call for meetings to discuss the consultant’s report. The report will then gather dust in some shelf because the organization is not able to implement it once the consultant leaves, with his knowledge. Competent managers are aware that the one who conceives an idea is the one best placed to implement it and they, therefore, put together some think-tank within the organization to conceive ideas, strategize on a realistic work plan and implement them.
Incompetent managers believe that working is being in the office long hours, late nights, early mornings and with no time off. Competent managers work effectively by prioritize and delegating. You can read more on this by clicking How To Manage Your Time Efficiently – And Even Have Time For Recreation.
Last but not least, incompetent managers are very secretive. They do not want their operations to be known by anybody else. They do not even take vacation just in case they have to leave somebody acting who will learn the tricks and take over their job.