Are your managers resilient enough to lead you through hard times?

By Julie Goh (4 Nov 2022)

One thing that is much needed in times of crisis is the resilience of our managers. Too many times, we see Managers topple at the first sign of crisis. Why is that?

It is quite common to promote someone to a managerial position not based on their ability to lead but rather because of their work achievement.

How many times have you promoted someone because they are your top salesperson or because they consistently receive praises from your customers for great services rendered?

Without doubt, these people excelled in their work, but can they lead and manage a team of people to achieve the same level of performance? Unfortunately, that rarely happens.

Everyone wants to be a manager, but they forgot to learn how to lead.

When high performers are put into leadership positions, they might end up struggling to transition. It can only be disastrous, not only for themselves, but also for the team that they lead.

It is quite different if you only need to manage yourself and only work towards hitting your own personal targets and KPIs, in comparison to if you have to do the same for a team of people. When you lead a team, not only do you have to achieve targets, you will need to look into other matters, such as training, retention, engagement… just to name a few.

When Things Start To Show..

Meanwhile, employees who have been contributing to the success of the team all this while could feel under-valued and unappreciated – all of which could lead to frustration and decide it’s time to start looking for better opportunities elsewhere. This is not only demoralising but could increase the resignation rate.

Losing experienced employees during trying times would be detrimental – not only in terms of the cost in replacing the employees but also the time period needed for selection and recruitment, and also for the new employees to perform up to par in terms of productivity and efficiency.

During the better times, the manager’s performance or rather, lack of performance might not be so noticeable. However, when encountering moments of crisis, this becomes more prominent, and the lack of results will amplify.

When faced with hard times, business owners would take measures to sustain the business. Similarly, managers are expected to do the same within their department – be it minimising or cutting expenditure, maximising productivity, increasing leads generation activities etc.

That is when your managers are really being tested on their capabilities and abilities to lead.

You can say that the managers are under tremendous pressure during these times and would be mentally stressed out.

No textbook can provide you with the perfect solution as each company will have its own unique set of issues and situations.

So, how can you tell if your manager is not suited for the position?

· Increased resignations and/or transfer requests

This is the topmost obvious sign that employees are unhappy and are opting out.

· Reduced employee productivity

An increase in sick leave and emergency leave would be one of the signs as well.

· Substandard work quality and decrease in work volume

If this is a sales team, the sales volume would decrease. If this is an administrative team, work would be tardy and full of errors/incomplete.

· Low morale

Employees would not be actively contributing during meetings or sharing their ideas. They would not be interested in whatever is going on around them in the office.

How Things Can Go Wrong

All these are red flags in any organisation and would need to be addressed immediately. Otherwise, it could lead to a decrease in profits or in worst case scenario, the company is shut down for good.

However, because of the hierarchy structure in most companies or due to the mindset of certain senior management, these signs are not heeded until it is too late.

It is very unfortunate (and common) that things are swept under the carpet too many times and no one bothers to look under it. The people who have access to such crucial information are not being pro-active and are just “merely doing their job” and thus, not reporting it further for anyone to investigate and take action to rectify.

When employees do take the initiative to complain to the upper management, they are marked as just that – “complainers”. They could even be terminated by the “bad” manager as a revenge. This could very well lead to a report being made to the IR Department for unfair dismissal.

In Malaysia, even an employee who is still on probation is eligible to receive up to 6 months of salary in lieu if the IR court finds in favor of the employee.

Lead and Deliver

One of the challenges of the manager is the need to re-imagine the way they work in an ever-changing environment that demands new traits for all leaders of every level.

Real management skills are obtained through interactions and communications from their relationships with employees as well as top management, to achieve the desired outcomes for everyone.

A manager is not only a supervisor, but also a coach, a mediator and a motivator. These days, a manager also has to nurture and care as well.

A manager is expected to make decisions – be it big or small, or how important. Under what circumstances are such decisions derived from, that is something that you cannot learn overnight.

Leading has become even more challenging in recent times, especially with remote/hybrid working environment and volatile economic situations.

A manager has to think quickly and calmly and would need to adapt with every changing situation. It would not be beneficial to anyone if decisions are made in a hasty and haphazard manner.

A manager must have the ability to see opportunities and develop solutions even under stressful situations.

It is important to a manager to learn from past experience in handling difficult situations to shape strategies in the current situation.

Most importantly, a manager must have the support and the trust of his team that he can lead them through tough times.

So, where do your managers stand in terms of their readiness to lead in trying times?

The author is an award-winning HR Sifu with, who has made significant improvements in how HR operates in multiple retail and high-volume/fast-paced companies. Complimentary consultation sessions with HR Sifu are available for all paying customers.

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