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DO IT RIGHT!

Managers must be mentors too

Managers are constantly under pressure to meet targets. With the top management asking for more output, they are busy preparing plans and meetings to implement them, meet deadlines and get their numbers right.

Getting the orders from the top, the manager has to sit with his team and delegate work to get the desired result. The manager is constantly interacting with his boss and reporting on various issues. With such tight work schedules it becomes near impossible to mentor some of the star performers in the team who have the potential to take on more responsibilities or move into a managerial role.

When some members of the team are stuck on their work and they get no advice from the manager, a sense of dejection sets in. Only in the eleventh hour the manager is able to come on to the problem and passes on a few instructions hurriedly to complete the task on hand. In such a situation, the team feels that there is no learning. They would want to understand and analyse the problem and know why such a decision is taken, given the circumstances.

If this happens frequently the team spirit will wane and the manager will be held in low esteem. When any problem rises, they will have little confidence in taking decisions, as the manager,will not let them. They will feel he is doing so intentionally. Though he is delegating, there is no sharing of information and skills to perform better. The team is bound to break up sooner than later.

A manager must make mentoring a part of routine work. He has to allocate some time and share whatever knowledge is relevant to the team. He should be able to mix his experience and that of the senior management to encourage the team to understand vital business plans and decisions taken. He must allow the members to question and must be able to provide validated answers. This will help the team to broaden its knowledge base.

This interaction has a wide impact on the morale of the employees. They will come to understand that the manager wants them to grow professionally. It will make them thirsty for more knowledge and they will make efforts to better their skills by reading relevant material, reports or take up a short course.

When growth in the organisation is limited, employees will want to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

A manager will be committing a blunder unintentionally if he fails to spend time with the subordinates in mentoring them. It may lead to flight of talent and he will be left with below par performers.

Mentoring can lead to several advantages for both the manager and the team. The overall performance level goes up as everybody can tackle difficult situations. The team is ready to work on more intricate tasks. The team spirit soars, as people will ask the manager to load them with more work.

The manager must know the expectation of his team, so that he can show them the way to gain professional confidence and move up on the company ladder.

“Most people manage for performance's sake rather than for development. Managers who manage for performance are more likely to be blindsided by events they should have foreseen and in many cases fixed—such as the sudden departure of a star employee for greener pastures or more commonly, a sense of discouragement that festers when someone believes, with reason, that the organisation is not in his or her corner”, says David A. Thomas, Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School.

By mentoring, a manager can build up brilliant teams by nurturing in house talent and probably address some of the succession problems in the long run.

K.V. RAJASEKHER

faqs@cnkonline.com

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