Middling Management

Reports that the problem with American business management is that it focuses on self-actualization rather than organizational effectiveness, according to Robert Hogan, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Tulsa and an expert in social relations. What management science is lacking; Job searches as beauty contests; Four characteristics that make a good manager; Role of trust among subordinates; More.

By PT Staff, published on March 1, 1993 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Seven out of every 10 employees wouldn't be surprised it you told most managers haven't got a clue when it to doing their jobs well. That's exactly how many people cite their managers as the "single worst aspect" of their jobs.

Why, in a country with a corporate culture that prides itself on its business savvy, are things so bad in the workplace? According to Robert Hogan, chairman of the psychology department at the University of Tulsa and an expert in social relations, it's because American business management focuses on self-actualization rather than organizational effectiveness. In other words, most managers are more concerned with themselves and the perception of their personal performance than they are with their team of employees.

That's not surprising, says Hogan. As a matter of fact, it's how they got where they are in the first place.

"Management science tends to focus on how people rise in an organization - rather than on the kind of training employees need to be good managers. Most managers got their jobs not because they actually know how to manage, but because they know how to present themselves. Job searches are more often beauty contests where the candidate who does the best presentation wins the prize," Hagan explains.

Once they're in management positions, it becomes clear that most people really don't know how to motivate productive teamwork. But they make themselves look good in the short run - by blaming mistakes on others or being dictatorial.

Not every manager is a lost cause: Hogan claims that some people can be trained to be good management. But it's not easy.

Them are four characteristics that make a good manager You've got to look like one, act like one, have a vision, and, perhaps most important, you need to have a capacity for personal growth, to be able to admit that you were wrong.

If there were just one piece of advice he could give to a now manager, it would be this: Don't ever lie to your employees. "The single most important aspect of any subordinate's perception of a manager is trust" observes Hogan. "If your staff doesn't see you as trustworthy, If they think you're a liar, you might as well forget it. Always, always, do your scheming in public."