Are SME Managers Neglected?

Whilst you may consider this to be a bizarre proposition, arguably the evidence, (discussions with managers, employees, and work place performance reviews), suggests yes. However, we should explore this in context, and consider what we mean by neglect.

Neglect: suffering a lack of proper care.

When we use the term neglect we are referring to a lack of support, unrealistic performance measures, and/or poor training and development faced by managers, and in this article we are considering the notion of neglect from the perspective of the manager within a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME).

So, are SMEs really neglecting their managers? And if so, what impact will this have, not only on the individual, but on the organisation as a whole? If you consider SMEs, and the general pressure faced by these organisations, for example funding limitations, small staff teams, and high costs, all mean that a manger is not able to manage in a true managerial sense, but rather is a person with responsibility who must carry out many of the tasks/functions that would normally be allocated to other employees/posts.

This is further compounded when we consider the economic impact of the economy, and attempting to get value for money. Whist this is a mainstay of the SME, the reality is that the manager is not able to function at peak performance; as such, they do not reach their true management potential/capability.

In no way is there a suggestion, or implication, that managers are not doing their jobs in SMEs, but if we are being honest, and realistic, are we expecting too much from the person who we have employed to take on a management role?

From an organisational perspective, when we apply this kind of pressure, or unknowingly overload one of our managers, we are not only impacting directly upon the individual, but on the performance of the organisation. Managers who are spread too thin cease to be effective, and are only able, (if lucky) to stay afloat. Furthermore, the manager who is overloaded is not able to do what is expected of them, in that they are not able to develop the product/service, monitor the performance of employees effectively, drive change, improve quality, or increase profit. Understandably, you may not feel that your manager does this, or even has the remit to do it. However, fundamentally, is this not part and parcel of the management function?

From an individual perspective, the manager will, over a period of time, become demoralised and demotivated. From this, stress, depression and long term sickness can ensue. Furthermore, employees will see the pressure placed upon the manager and you will not be able to invest effectively into employee development and progression, and ultimately succession planning. If a manager is unable to perform due to workload and unrealistic expectations, then the impact of this will result in the manager leaving, or the organisation taking action relating to performance. In either case, this is not the most beneficial way to grow and develop an SME.

Based upon the discussion points herein, should SMEs do more to support, encourage and develop their managers, whilst being realistic about performance expectations? Arguably, there is a case for greater investment in training and development for managers, so they are more able to be effective in the role and undertake their duties efficiently.

There is also a need for SMEs to understand the work related expectations and performance of managers (and the wider workforce), so that individuals who are recruited are able to function to the expectations of the post, which in turn will grow and drive the business.