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  • MacLemons Ltd

Are Management Skills even needed anymore?

Updated: Mar 11, 2021

I now find myself at a rather strange point! Having now devoted the vast majority of my adult life to helping and coaching in the management and motivation sphere it appears to me these skills are being rendered increasingly redundant – and foolishly so. Allow me to explain.

Management situations can be cut and dried, black or white, easily discerned. The challenge with management though is that more often they are not. As I always state in my management programs, real management often occurs in “the grey”. There is more to it than meets the eye and managers need to be skilled at not only identifying that but also being able to deal with it. This is where I am seeing organisations increasingly abandoning that principle.

The notion from a management perspective that everyone should be treated the same is not only wrong it is obviously wrong. This is not in terms of people being held to performance standards but more how you deal with individuals to hit those standards. Some people need more time, more coaching, more encouragement and so on than others. So how are organisations abandoning the obvious? Well it is in the areas of management where things may have “gone wrong”.

There are 3 ways I see this happening:

  1. Loss of perspective

  2. Rejection of the validity of apology

  3. Application of ultimate sanction

Loss of Perspective - as I coach people upon, any management situation needs to be viewed from a number of angles. The individual involved, the context, the intent, the action, and the result.

It really does depend on who the person is, what was happening at the time, the intent the person had, what they did, and what happened. This principle is even enshrined in law. For example if someone is unfortunate enough to kill someone else, all of these factors are taken in to consideration – and rightly so. This seems to have been rejected in many organisations with a sole focus upon the action, and the subsequent result, ( defined by an increasingly narrow view), totally disregarding the previous factors. That is the epitome of loss of perspective.

Surely everything depends on context? What I now see are organisations looking myopically at an occurrence and using knee jerk reactions which completely negate any perspective at all and then they make things worse by moving on to points 2 and 3.

Rejection of the Validity of Apology - people do things deliberately, and they also do things inadvertently. When something happens which may have been with all good intent and with no malice at all, but “lands badly”, this must be managed and dealt with in a different way to someone being deliberately and knowingly provocative. And when the inadvertent mistake has been made, an apology should suffice.

Organisations need to get back to such a common sense approach. What I see is organisations demanding some form of infallibility from people where no mistakes are tolerated and saying sorry just isn’t good enough. Well I am sorry – in many situations sorry should be good enough. End of.

Application of Ultimate Sanction - the last thing which happens, due to lack of perspective, the unwillingness of individuals to accept things have happened with no malice, and the sheer rejection of apology, is the application of ultimate sanction. Unnecessary, inappropriate and disproportionate sanction. Increasing numbers of organisations seem incapable of dealing with anything without people being disciplined or suspended or sacked for things which are ridiculous and where the organisation could not take any form of common sense approach.

What all of the above means is management of people and situations on their merits goes out the window, and as result so does good management itself.

A quote I have used for years on my management skills trainings , and will continue to do so is – “There is nothing more unequal, than the equal treatment, of unequals”.

If the above resonates with you and you or your organisation need help to navigate the modern management environment – get in touch

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