Management has been around for as long as human beings have existed.  We all experienced management growing up. Our parents, older siblings and even our relatives organized us. Within the community, some took charge; they gave direction and their decisions seemed better than most. When we joined learning institutions, the class teacher, the head teacher and the prefects held quite some authority. Some teachers motivated us and others had little contribution to our education years. The church too represents a form of organization that has existed for a long. The Roman Catholic Church for example has had a clear chain of command. Management has also existed in the military and government. Management both good and bad has been part of our everyday living. Most of us have maybe experienced both extremes first-hand.

By experience management, we can learn both how to manage and how not to manage. This is because our workplaces have different types of managers. These managers manage in different ways; they are accustomed to a certain style of management that may be acceptable or unacceptable. Whilst some managers inspire, others intimidate. In the world of business, some managers mismanage the limited resources that they are supposed to use to achieve their goals. I suspect that the most mismanaged resource is people. I support the line of thought that suggests that people cannot be managed they can only be led.  In my work life, I have interacted with managers. I have learnt many lessons on how to manage. In addition, I have learnt lessons on how not to manage.

One particular manager taught me a lot about how not to manage. I picked the lessons from actions and inactions I witnessed. Having lived through the lessons has made me a better manager.  To this day, I have found the lessons to be very valuable.  The first lesson was the failure to induct your staff and expecting they will just have to figure out what needs to be done and how it should be done. A closely related lesson is not making the expectations clear. These two actions sets up the staff to fail.  I recall how this manager used intimidation. The manager would tell the new staff on their face that termination was an option at the end of probation. The failure to communicate was a secret weapon used by this manager. Worst of all, the level of micromanagement was demeaning, one needed to consult on just about anything. If you find yourself with such a manager, learn how not to manage.

One needs to build managerial competency at every opportunity. This starts by first gaining an understanding of what management is and what it is not. I believe that management is an organized effort whose major responsibility is getting work done through others. It is best when such work is done willingly in a supportive environment where building trust is a priority. Further, I consider management to encompass all the activities that help in the achievement of organizational goals. Unfortunately, some of what managers do is a disservice to their organizations. The role of the manager has changed over the years. One is no longer just a commander; one is a leader, a coach, a mentor, a change agent and above all, the best role model.

Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy

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