The problem may be that the company has promoted successful “doers” (salespeople, office workers, and so on) to the role of manager, assuming that they will also be successful in this role. These two roles require significantly different skills, however. Thus, without proper training, many “doers” will fail in the manager’s role. Their tendency to continue “doing” will show itself in poor delegation skills and poor coordination of the activities of others. Subordinates may complain that they do not know what they are supposed to do.
Problems like these suggest that the company is not devoting sufficient resources to developing a pool of managerial talent. It may be relying too much on on-the-job training rather than on formal management development programs. For example, during the days of rapid growth at Ashton-Tate, managers multiplied almost as rapidly as rabbits. One manager stated: “I was hired and then escorted to my department. The escort said: ‘Here’s your department. Run it.’” Similarly, rapid growth at Apple Computer led Steven Jobs to bring in “professional managers,” including John Sculley, to help manage the firm, because the company had not developed a cadre of managers as it grew.
Management problems may also result from real or perceived organizational constraints that restrict a manager’s authority. The feeling that only upper management has decision-making responsibility is common in firms making the transition to professional management. It is a relic from the days when the founding entrepreneur made all the firm’s decisions.
People Feel That “I Have to Do It Myself If I Want to Get It Done Correctly.” Increasingly, as people become frustrated by the difficulty of getting things done in an organization, they come to feel that “if I want to get something done correctly, I have to do it myself.” This symptom, like lack of coordination, is caused by a lack of clearly defined roles, responsibilities, and linkages between roles.
As was discussed previously, when roles and responsibilities are not clearly defined, individuals or departments tend to act on their own because they do not know whose responsibility a given task is. They may also do the task themselves to avoid confrontation, since the person or department to whom they are trying to delegate a responsibility may refuse it.
Operating under this philosophy, departments become isolated from one another, and teamwork becomes minimal. Each part of the company “does its own thing” without considering the good of the whole. Communication between management and lower levels of the organization and between departments may be minimal because the organization has no formal system through which information can be channeled.
Most People Feel That Meetings Are a Waste of Time. Recognizing that there is a need for better coordination and communication, the growing organization may begin to hold meetings. Unfortunately, at many firms these meetings are nothing more than discussions between people. They have no planned agendas, and often they have no designated leader. As a consequence, the meetings become a free-for-all, tend to drag on interminably, and seldom result in decisions. People feel frustrated and conclude that “our meetings are a waste of time.”