Three kinds of managers, which one are you?

By Prabodh Sirur|3rd Nov 2017
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Three kinds of managers

There are as many styles of management as there are managers, but all great managers work at discovering a person’s unique traits and nurturing them.

I am going back forty years and sharing my insights from my experience of three kinds of managers. We were around a dozen clerks working in a government bank in its audit department. Our role was a bit strange. Let me elaborate to give you an idea about the pre-technology days.

We had 200-plus audit officers who would audit our branches spread across the country. They would write down their findings during audits and move to the next branch. They would return to our office after about two months with a lot of manuscripts. The typists would then type all these reports and give the typed sheets to the auditors. Each auditor would then call one of us to do the “calling” (calling in our vocabulary was reading out the whole manuscript to the auditor so that the auditor could verify the correctness of the typed sheets). It was a tiring job; our voices would go hoarse by the end of the day.

But when these auditors were out for the next audit tour, we would be free. For days together we had absolutely no work. Our gang would sneak out for movies or find some new restaurants and spend time together.

Our role was managed by an Administrative Officer. The officer had many administrative tasks; managing us was one of them. My stories are about two administrative officers who came in succession. These stories are about “employee non-engagement” (I assume this is a valid English word). I doubt if we knew anything about new world terminologies such as talent management, talent development, competency enhancement etc. I do not intend to find fault in these managers but want to highlight how we managers lose an opportunity to contribute to people, lose out on creating possibilities of serving the nation.

Our first Administrative Officer - an attendance register in human form

The first admin officer was only interested in ensuring that we came in at 10 am and left at 6 pm. He would religiously log the in-time and out-time. And deduct one day's leave after three late comings. He never bothered us during the day; he did not care what we did during the day. It never occurred to him that he was wasting the organisation's money by not using us in some way during the lean time.

 Our second Administrative Officer - keep people 'busy'

This officer was more evolved than the previous one. He wanted to ensure that the organisation's money was not wasted and did not want us to waste our time. So every now and then, he would form teams of two and ask each team to take out all audit reports from the cupboard, arrange them in alphabetical order, create a list and paste it on the cupboard. We would ask him the purpose of doing this exercise every fortnight. I don't remember his response. But I am sure he didn't have any great motivational answer. He was happy that the organisation's resources were not wasted. He did not want to know if this task added any value to the bank. He did not realise what impact it had on our minds. He felt really satisfied that he was working better than the previous manager. We continued this mindless exercise till a new officer came in.

Is there a third kind?

The real manager nurtures people. He/she assigns challenging tasks to people, bringing value to the organisation and to the people. We all were in our early twenties and aspired to become officers. An ideal manager had various options to help us in preparing us for the promotion test.

We were all freshers and knew nothing about banking and finance. An ideal manager could have found ways to help us learn.

Most audit reports had some common observations. An ideal manager could have asked us to conduct a study of all audit reports and create a checklist of these common errors; and to go to different departments to find corrective and preventive ways. That would have helped us know more about how the bank functioned and helped the bank, in turn, in creating awareness among branch employees on how to avoid mistakes in future.

Do you see opportunities in your role to nurture people and also add value to your organisation in the process? Don't you feel that growing your people is one way of doing a service to the nation?

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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