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Nobody Wants To Lead The Corporate Dance…

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By J.T. O’Donnell

Back in November, I wrote a post about the show The Office and how the anti-management attitude displayed on the show was affecting employees. Today, I got the following from Randstad, one of the two staffing firms that does annual workplace surveys which I quoted in the post.  Their newest survey indicates the trend is growing:

“…Randstad released its annual World of Work report around the topic of managers and how businesses are finding themselves with a declining pool of trained managers.  Not only do 51% of workers say they do not have qualified managers, 49% of workers want nothing to do with climbing the corporate ladder to management – especially those qualified to lead.  Stress is the main deterrent for 82% of Gen X, Boomers and Mature workers while Gen Ys most fear managing disgruntled employees.

“To retain managers and head off a potential shortage, organizations need to rethink how they define and communicate managerial roles,” says Eileen Habelow, Randstad Senior Vice President – Organizational Development. “Especially in periods of economic recessions, companies rely on managers to problem solve, drive productivity and innovation, motivate and provide opportunities for workers to learn new skills and achieve new successes.  It’s not just doom and gloom that managers are focusing on today. Companies need to be sure they are consistently reiterating managers’ valuable contributions, not only to the company, but to the broader workforce.”

I agree with Eileen that companies need to make the role of manager more appealing, but honestly folks….

Who’s going to lead the corporate dance if everyone is too afraid (or, dare I say lazy) to step up and take charge? My guess is the ‘stress’ and ‘disgruntled employee’ issues that are making talent avoid taking on managerial responsibilities will get even worse. Take the concept to the extreme and it’s like a vicious downward spiral in to a black hole of disengaged, unproductive workers and stalled businesses. They’ll definitely be no dancing then! We are always giving management a hard time about being greedy, self-absorbed, out-of-touch and short-sighted, but maybe workers should take a look in the mirror and stop throwing stones at glass houses. FACT: If you don’t want the job, then be ready for the consequences of having someone ill-equipped and power-hungry (there’s an ugly combination) as your boss, a.k.a. dance partner. If everyone decides to leave managing to someone else, the pickings will be slim.

ATTN: The Corporate Dance Needs Lead Partners

Think of the manager/employee relationship like ballroom dancing. For it to work, one of the two has to lead. Otherwise, they’ll be going in different directions. (FYI – Watch the movie ‘Take the Lead’ with Antonio Banderas for a fabulous explanation on the power of lead/follow element of ballroom dancing.) In short, we need talent to face their fears (seek leadership opps), feel the music (get a pulse on the business) and practice the moves (study up on good management technique) so they can feel confident in their ability to lead the corporate dance without stress or fear.

So…who’s with me?

Raise your hand if you are willing to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Take a communications class and learn to get along better with co-workers and management, volunteer to run a project, or read a leadership book or two.

And yes, I know past management errors (they’ve stepped on a lot of toes) makes it hard to want to step up to the corporate dance floor, BUT maybe that’s just what’s needed to get the dance looking good again – a chance to see it from the management side. Understanding brings compassion, and compassion strengthens partnerships. Appreciation for the role of management could help you feel better about your job and help you move forward, maybe even more gracefully, in your career.

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