A couple years ago a member came to my roundtable with the following issue: “My Dad is dying from cancer in Michigan and I have to be with him. I don’t have anyone trained to run my company when I’m gone. What can I do?”
The discussion that followed was genuinely caring and he got some ideas that made it possible for him to step away and be with his father in his final days. As so often happens at these meetings, members learn as much if not more from the issues brought up by others. I could see the wheels turning in their heads. What if they were suddenly called away or worse? What would happen to their companies?
The astounding and sad fact is that 50 to 80% of middle managers fail to meet the expectations of the people who promoted them.
Why? There’s an abundance of technical training for middle managers but much of it is focused on technical skills instead of people skills. Managing is about bringing out the best in people, not overwhelming subordinates with technical information. Much of the training on people skills is focused but short. It’s hard to instill new habits with little practice and no follow-up.
In his book, “Looking out for Number 2”, Bruce Miles, Ed.D. describes a Number 2 person as someone “you rely on when you cannot or do not have the personal resources to attend to all parts of the business on your own.” Miles says Number 2’s are able to:
•Think like an owner
•Understand, promote & help deliver the organizational vision
•Manage outcomes identified as essential within the strategic plan
•Help employees persist, succeed, & thrive
•Learn new skills
•Deal with some role ambiguity
If you have a number 2 person in your company, would you feel comfortable leaving that person totally in charge if you had to suddenly step away?
If you don’t have a number 2 person identified, what’s your contingency plan?