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An abridged version of this article was first published in The Australian newspaper on 4 October 2019.

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Management Tip (5): Learn From Bad Managers (and Good).

August 9, 2017

Watch what bad managers do and don't do what they do!  

 

You don’t have to do the course or the seminar or the post-graduate degree to learn what is good management. Watch what managers do and work out for yourself whether what they are doing is working. If you think they are good managers, emulate the good things they do.

 

Watch what bad managers do and learn from them too. Just don’t do what they do!

 

One of my bosses could remember the names and, in many cases, family or personal details of every one of the 800 or so staff members he had talked to. At least, whenever I was with him he was able to do this when he met someone he had met before.

 

It struck me that it made a big, positive impact on the individual that the manager could call them by their name and remember that they had 2 daughters or a played cricket (or whatever). I tried to emulate him but I never found the secret of being able to put all the names to all the faces. You see, I have an air traffic controller’s memory: It’s very good but it’s very short.

 

And did I mention I have an air traffic controller’s memory….? Anyway, I noticed that his ability to call people by name was very well received. So, remembering names was always a management skill I strove to achieve.

 

Earlier in my career, I had a manager who was really great – at that time I thought he was the best manager I had ever had. He was always across all the detail of my work so I could discuss aspects with him when I needed guidance.

 

Then he was promoted, as was I. And he became one of the worst managers I’d had because he tried to keep up with all the detail of all the work in his area (of which my area was now only a small part) and failed. Previously he managed areas with a relatively narrow breadth, now he had a much broader remit and couldn't keep up with all the detail. As a result, everything slowed down while he read all the reports etc. That’s when I learned, you can’t do it all by yourself: Delegate. (See my article on Delegation.)


I try to put into practice the admirable behaviours, abilities and leadership qualities I see. I try to avoid the poor practices. I don’t have to make my own mistakes to learn (but when I do make mistakes, I try to learn from them), I can learn from their mistakes as well!

 

Learn from other managers - good and bad.

 

 

This article is just my view of the topic at title. Like a lot of people, I’ve done some training in management techniques but there is no substitute for experience. In my case, a bit of trial and error, learning from my mistakes, watching other managers and a little common sense. I hope you found it of interest and assistance.

 

Peter Cromarty

 

 

Peter Cromarty is a former air traffic controller and pilot. He spent 27 years as a safety regulator of ATM/CNS, airspace and aerodromes.

View his Linked In profile.

 

 

 

 

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