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Tale of the accidental manager

Research carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMT) pointed to widespread concern about the quality of management. The CMT found that as many as 82% of new managers in the UK are what it calls “ accidental managers”- embarking on the role with no formal training in management or leadership. This is the story of two such managers.
I never intended or wanted to become a manager. The vacancy came up when my manager left, I was the longest serving member of the team, the rest of the team encouraged me to go for it, their motives made not have been entirely selfless, I didn’t fancy showing some young know it all how to do the job and I thought the extra money would be welcome. I didn’t really anticipate any problems after all I routinely inducted new staff and was the person to go to if you wanted technical advice or the benefit of experience. The biggest difficulty would be the interview. But as it happens they panel just asked about my current job. I explained I had been around long enough to know what needed to be done and how to do it and I felt sure I could get people to do what needed to be done. I obviously convinced them as they appointed me.
I realised that as the manager I was responsible for a budget and hitting performance targets but the team had always hit the targets in the past and the budget responsibility did not extend much beyond the employee budget. Within the first month the organisation sent me on a two day new managers induction course. After a welcome from a senior manager and pep talk about the challenges the organisation faced and the need for greater efficiencies we were introduced to our contacts in Finance, HR and IT. I don’t remember much about the sessions other than the man who did the Health and Safety session had some funny slides on unusual accidents at work. HR said we would have to go on an EDI course before we could recruit staff, that all managers were required to go on a one day unconscious basis course and annual appraisals were very important and had to be completed for all staff by the deadline.
Non of which prepared me for what happened. One of the more experienced team members left. Before I could get on the recruitment course the organisation declared a budget problem, froze all vacancies, banned overtime and the use of agency staff. Our performance targets started to slip . Instead of working harder to make up for the staffing shortage individuals adopted a why should I attitude. I was criticised for not filling the vacancy before the freeze. Apparently other managers had been quicker off the mark. Team moral was low, people started taking odd days off sick, previously conscious colleagues now missed deadlines or submitted unsatisfactory work. The building resentment all came to a head when I refused someones annual leave request on the bases of an approaching important performance deadline. I didn’t get the backing from my manager or HR that I expected. I was subjected to a formal grievance accused of favouritism, inflexibility and bullying. Individual team members were all interviewed. The grievance hearing  lasted two days chaired by a senior manager. I was portrayed as an insensitive, autocratic manager who presided over a toxic work place. My union rep said my best defence was to claim the organisation had failed to provide me with the necessary management training for someone in their first management post.
Another Accidental Manager 
I loved my job. I like working with older people. I got on well with the rest of the team. I was always given the new member of staff to show the ropes and I enjoyed the passing on my knowledge and tips. My officer in charge was very complementary and would sometimes ask me to hold the fort if they were going to be in a meeting and there was no other manager around.
I never gave any serious thought to becoming a manager then one day the boss said there is a management post going at one of our other homes and your name came up in discussion. She said I should got for it. I wasn’t sure but then one of the senior managers visiting the home called me into the office said they had heard good things about me and would welcome an application for the management post.  I applied, was interviewed and appointed and that’s when my life became hell.
My new staff resented me, they didn’t accept my authority, it wasn’t outright defiance but passive resistance. If I asked someone to do something they would say that’s not the way we do things here or the boss likes it done this way. I soon learned that the boss was more interested in an easy life and did anything to avoid conflict. I just didn’t know how to deal with staff who were uncooperative. I tried being friendly but they just took advantage. I tried being tough but they put in formal complaints saying they were being  bullied, these were not upheld but they created the impression that I was a manager out my depth and I was.
 Maybe things would have been different if I had a more supportive line manager but I didn’t. I think she considered my appointment by senior management as a criticism of how she ran the home. I was too inexperienced to know how to handle an antagonistic staff group and an undermining manager.
The stress was effecting my home life and making me very unhappy. I went to see the senior manager who appointed me and asked for my old job back. I was crying in their office. I got my old job back. Not everyone is cut out for management but throwing someone in at the deep end like they did to me is just wrong.

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