“Managers Don’t Have All the Answers”
Managers are expected to be well-informed, well-organized and ready to answer all the questions! But is it really like that in reality? They are all just people after all, with all the virtues and flaws each of us have. So, do managers really have to have all the answers?
Have you ever heard of the term “the iceberg of ignorance”? Let’s start with the premise that front-line supervisors should know how to fix all the front-line problems. Should they, actually?
Regardless of the number of people in a team, you have a few levels of workers there. And those who are in the lower positions are the ones who are majorly aware of those front-line problems.
That’s natural because they are in the busiest level of a job. As one gets promoted, new duties come, which decreases the knowledge on these problems on daily basis. To put it shortly, the higher the position, the less is the knowledge on front-line problems.
With that having said, how can anyone expect that managers have all the answers? It takes a lot for any team to be successful and work well, and in this article, we shall reveal all there is about being a manager. You will see why managers actually don’t need to know all the answers.
Besides that, you will see why some managers still tend to have all the answers and how good that is. Moreover, you will find out what to do when a quick solution is needed and what does it take to become a successful manager.
WHY MANAGERS NEEDN’T KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS?
As a manager, one is expected to be capable of dealing with all the problems. However, there are some problems which are trickier and the solution is not so clear. Do managers need to solve it despite that? Yes, but by using a wider approach rather than trying to act alone.
Whereas back then admitting that you don’t know something was shameful and unacceptable, nowadays things are way different. Here’s why:
- By admitting that he/she doesn’t have all the answers a manager shows that after all he/she is only a human being and equal among others.
- Not knowing all the answers gives lots of chances for a manager to learn more, dig deeper and expand and upgrade his/her knowledge.
- When a manager doesn’t have an answer that can be an opportunity for other team members to come up with some ideas and solutions.
So, at this point, you may wonder what is the right amount of knowledge a manager should have. The answer is- enough! Enough to put him/her in a position to make some important decisions but still leaving space for new ideas and bits of knowledge to come.
The purpose of a team working and team building is in learning from each other. Yes, there are different positions in teams, low and high, more and less responsible, but a team is a machinery which works well only if all parts are in it. Even without the smallest one, the machinery wouldn’t work properly.
That’s why it is very important that team members constantly work together. They should improve and learn from each other. A manager should serve as a coordinator who will, acting this way, give a positive example of a good team behavior.
WHAT IF A MANAGER HAS ALL THE ANSWERS?
The simplest answer to this would be- the manager is in the wrong way! Having all the answers doesn’t make you the smartest person in your team. Quite the opposite. A manager who thinks he/she has all the answers is actually a person who doesn’t listen to the other team members. When one acts that way, this is what he/she is saying to team members:
- I’m smarter than all of you.
- I don’t need your help.
- Just put your heads down and listen to me, do what I tell you without question.
- Regardless of your knowledge and expertise, I’m the one whose opinion and decisions are the most important.
Yeah, you will agree that these sentences sound terrible, but that’s the truth. These are just some of the messages a manager with all the answers is sending to his/her colleagues. Such behavior is quite the opposite of how should a team look like. By acting this way, a manager alienates and disengages from the team, and that leads to disaster.
Some managers believe that this exclusion from the rest of the team by sending others message that you have all the answers will make people think that he/she is a smart and powerful manager. But, luckily, that kind of a manager rarely remains in a position of a leader.
That kind of behavior is often just a shield of protection. It’s a mask behind which one actually tries to hide the feeling of insecurity. In reality, a good manager is the one that cooperates with team members.
Just to make one thing clear. There are situations where instant answers are needed and a manager somehow tends to be the first figure other team members consult.
Some situations require prompt and efficient answer which will solve the issue as soon as possible, without numerous meetings or some wide discussion. Such situations are not the same to what we previously described.
Managers will provide quick answers on occasions where they are necessary for solving the problem as fastest as possible. However, looking in some general way, managers should listen to team members. A team is all about cooperating, exchanging thoughts and experiences, growing the big idea by contributing from multiple sides.
Furthermore, we shall also discuss these situations where a manager has to think of a solution as soon as possible. Moreover, we shall describe what does it take to be a successful manager.
WHAT TO DO WHEN A MANAGER NEEDS TO GIVE AN INSTANT ANSWER?
As we mentioned, there are some situations where the quick solution is necessary. If team members cannot solve it, the final word will come from a manager. But if even a manager is not sure what is the right thing to do, but something still has to be done- what to do?
Some managers will admit, which will definitely increase their credibility among colleagues. That will motivate others to suggest some solutions. Like we said, admitting that you don’t have an answer will open lots of possibilities both for you and other team members.
Still, whether one admits or not, the problem has to be solved. Making that very first step in such situations is usually very hard. But as soon as one does it, things will start moving in a positive direction. Here’s what managers usually do when this is the case.
1. Define the challenge precisely
Meet your enemy- that’s what this is! Say it out loud! Of course, don’t go through the company literally yelling that you don’t have an answer, but pronounce the sentence so that you can hear it for the beginning.
Even if a manager hasn’t got an instant answer, he/she should be able to ask better questions! The right questions will significantly speed up the whole process of problem-solving.
A manager should have a deeper understanding of a problem but trying to figure out what he/she knows about it and what not. This will significantly help by at least defining things into two categories- what is familiar and what is not.
2. Use other people’s experience and expertise
Unless it’s a business which is something never seen before, the odds are that someone was in the similar or same situation.
Besides experience and expertise, a person which might be of help in this situation has to be someone who has a good understanding of it and the ability to explain things precisely and quickly. Beware of faux experts which may make the problem even worse.
Look for opinions from those who are willing to share their experience for the sake of helping and sharing their knowledge.
3. Ask the right questions
This goes way beyond- what am I gonna do now? Ask as many “wh-” and any other questions as possible. The deeper you dig into the core of a problem, the better are the chances that you will come up with something.
Who can help? Why did the problem occur? When did it start? Where to look for solutions? Start from the simplest and proceed to the more complicated ones. Sooner than you realize you will be just a step away from having the final answer.
4. Take a chance and do something
If a manager has some rough idea what might be of help but is not sure whether that will bring positive results, what to do? Give it a try! Even if this is not the most perfect solution, still it will give you the next directions for solving the issue.
Of course, don’t risk just for the sake of it or when you can make more damage than good. Feel free to take some step and the next one will be easier because the directions will be at least a bit clearer than the step before.
As we said, it’s mostly up to managers to give the final decision, and these tips can be of help. Routine and self-confidence usually come with time, and new managers are always in more challenging situations than those who are already in this position for quite some time.
But, when one is ready to learn, he/she is on a good way to become a quality manager. This rule goes both for newbies and experienced managers.
HOW TO BECOME A SUCCESSFUL MANAGER?
New managers usually deal with more challenges. Getting promoted gives one lot of mixed feelings. It is flattering to know that you are in the position to lead the team and be in charge of some big decisions. But there’s also the pressure one feels, that all the answers have to be ready from day one.
A newbie shouldn’t despair, as he/she is not alone in this. It’s quite a natural feeling. One has to learn how to mask the feeling of not being ready to cope with all the upcoming situations, to pretend that he/she has all the answers even if that’s not the case.
New managers struggle with feelings of incompetence even if they are highly experienced and full of knowledge. Here are some helpful bits of advice on how one can deal with all the sets of expectations.
1. Know your knowledge
For the beginning, you should be aware of what you know and what you don’t know. That will help you realize what are the situations where you can give quick solutions and what are the ones where you will have to learn. You don’t have to be instantly capable of solving anything and everything from day one no human being is.
After all, if someone decided to promote you to this position, that certainly means you have some valuable skills and bits of knowledge, as well as the good predisposition to deal with issues. That’s should be a motivational starting point for you.
2. Let your freshness be your advantage
Being new in some field brings many new possibilities, both to you and your team. Sometimes a slight pressure can trigger innovative solutions and answers. Imagine how the pioneers in some industries felt like. If they didn’t dare to try, we would never have some amazing and intriguing discoveries. Lots of positive things happened because people decided to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid of some unusual solutions.
3. Keep on asking
Give your team an example that constant inquiry is a positive quality. That way both you as a new manager and your team members will feel more confident when the problem comes. Moreover, the feeling of being exposed when the answer is not instantly visible will not be so intense.
By asking questions you encourage team members to come to you with ideas, to exchange them, and that way you create a positive atmosphere between all of you. After all, a team is about exchanging knowledge and experience.
4. Make space for other members
Each team consists of people of different levels of knowledge and experience, which means that some of them have better chances over the others to come up with a solution. And when we say others, a manager also belongs to the group.
By giving other an opportunity to express themselves a manager creates a healthy working atmosphere where members treat each other with respect. By acting that way, a manager earns more respect from the colleagues.
Just go back to the days where you were one of the team members striving to express his/her opinion to the manager. And the happiness that comes when a manager used your opinion to fix the issue. Continue that behavior even when you are a manager because that way you encourage people to express their thoughts and ideas.
5. “I don’t know” motto
Repeat this sentence every day, because you will be more and more motivated to look for answers and solutions. Of course, don’t go bragging about not knowing anything, as it can be counterproductive. Just admit that even you as a manager are not obliged to know everything at once, that you have to learn more and upgrade yourself. By sharing this very personal feeling with team members, you also show them that you respect and trust them. And when a team knows that, your relationship will become stronger, which will result in more productiveness and success in the future.
As you can see being a good manager is actually a set of feelings and behaviors which should be repeated every day. That “day one” is never easy, but the sooner one realizes that it’s all about learning and acquiring new tricks and tips, the sooner one will become a successful manager.
But even the experienced managers should follow these rules, as they can also be in a situation where they don’t know something. Including yourself in a team, rather than excluding is what managers should do, when looking for answers and solutions.
FINAL THOUGHT ON MANAGERS AND ANSWERS
Regardless of being an experienced manager or a newbie in the field, or not a manager at all, we do hope that our article was motivating and encouraging for you. After learning why managers don’t have to have all the answers at once and why is actually bad to have them all, you became aware of the difference between a good and a bad manager.
Above all, we mostly hope that now you realize the true power of “I don’t know”. Now that you know that not knowing is not a bad thing, you can approach things differently. And, again, that’s something that can be applied in all situations in life. This sentence should motivate people to upgrade and improve themselves, to strive for more.
Now that you have all this tips and tricks, try applying them throughout all fields of your life. As the days go by, you will notice numerous positive changes. Life is all about learning and upgrading each and every second, and it doesn’t take much to be in the right way.
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