We’d all like to think we are great managers. Right? However there is a big difference between being a great technician and a great manager. Great technicians come in many forms – they might be great buyers or accountants or web designers or warehouse pickers. Their job is to do fantastic work and they focus on producing physical output. They are extremely valuable and you need them in your business. Without them work won’t get done. They are not managers, however.

Great managers, on the other hand, focus on building great teams and more specifically great people. They spend most of their time managing people. They develop talent. They don’t focus on actually doing the work themselves. Their value is in creating an environment where the technicians and emerging managers can excel. They are passionate about developing their people into the best they can be and don’t care whether they outgrow and leave the business. This approach inevitably leads to companies becoming employers of choice and people staying longer.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen all that often. A lot of managers are impatient (or worse) and won’t spend the time teaching and mentoring their people to become better. Instead they just do the work themselves and complain how busy they are. Or they leave their people to their own devices and complain when progress is slow. These managers are actually technicians in disguise. They are more comfortable in doing the work rather than managing other people to do the work. What they don’t realise is that they have created both a work bottleneck and development bottleneck in their business. Work doesn’t get done because they are the only people that can do it and nobody under them ever gets any development time so they don’t move forward with their careers. People leave as a result. Sound familiar?

Don Argus, Chairman of BHP Billiton, recently said “I have a view about business life – that I judge a lot of people on how many talented people they produce.” He’s right. It’s the         ultimate test for a manager at any level and at any stage of his/her career. How may have you produced?

Recently I mentioned Don Argus’ comment to a colleague of mine who constantly complains about how he can never retain good talent within his company. His response was “I can’t keep them anyway why would I want to invest time, effort and money in training and mentoring them when they’ll leave anyway”. My response was – what if you don’t and they stay? Food for thought…

Have a great week!