Why Accidental Managers Are Damaging Employee Mental Health

An accidental manager can be defined as “Someone who has been promoted because of their technical expertise and track record, but lacks the skills and experience in management”.

Research suggests that we’re currently experiencing a crisis of accidental managers. According to the 2018 CMI manifesto, 2.4 million employees who are not trained in the art of management are promoted into leadership roles solely because of their functional expertise (task based skills). As a result, organisations are diminishing the well-being of their employees and showing signs of inadequate productivity, wasting around £84bn a year.

An accidental manager can be defined as “Someone who has been promoted because of their technical expertise and track record, but lacks the skills and experience in management”.

Research suggests that we’re currently experiencing a crisis of accidental managers. According to the 2018 CMI manifesto, 2.4 million employees who are not trained in the art of management are promoted into leadership roles solely because of their functional expertise (task based skills). As a result, organisations are diminishing the well-being of their employees and showing signs of inadequate productivity, wasting around £84bn a year.

Failing to train new managers in fundamental leadership skills correctly is showcased in these findings. From this, it quickly becomes apparent that current mental health and wellbeing support developed by accidental managers doesn’t accommodate those in need. Visualising this can be challenging, but here are some reasons why.

1.   Delayed Response – Use of Reactive Support Only

There’s an abundance of organisations that employ reactive mental health support, such as Mental Health First Aiders and Employee Assistance Programs. However, these tools are designed to support those most in need, or possibly at a stage of crisis – realistically, companies should not be allowing their people to arrive at this stage in the first place.

The best way to overcome this problem is to integrate mental health culture into the workforce. A company’s culture should be filled with shared goals, values, attitudes, and practices to guarantee all employees know what to do when they feel they need support.

Additionally, it helps identify those that aren’t following company culture, such as accidental managers. When a group of individuals follow the same beliefs and goals, they feel more encouraged to speak about current, unmotivating situations.

2.   Insufficient Strategic Approach

Including the above, there isn’t a satisfactory approach to monitoring, identifying, and solving mental health issues related to accidental managers. Most organisations generate data-driven plans by consolidating information from reports to make more accurate decisions. However, It’s often the case that the same amount of effort isn’t applied to employee well-being.

Just like all business practices, a strategic and data-driven approach must be thought about when reviewing and supporting the current wellbeing of an organisation’s employees. Obtaining this data can be extremely valuable, as it allows organisations to see which areas of the company have a good level of employee wellbeing, and the correlation this has with productivity and performance.

3.   Lack of Transformational Skills

The last area of discussion is the lack of transformational skills that accidental managers show. An accidental manager may understand the transactional skills that they need to perform, often having been in in the role of one of their managed employees previously, but do not show the softer skills required for motivational purposes.

Many people have a misconception that leaders are born, not created. But this is far from correct. With adequate training, new leaders can quickly improve in transformational skills such as curiosity, communication, vision, simplicity and charisma, which will dramatically improve the performance of a department.

The above showcases the insufficient practices which become apparent when placing accidental managers in leadership roles within an organisation. Without well-thought about procedures, monitoring & identifying, and soft management skills, employees mental health and wellbeing can quickly diminish as a result.

‘This article is brought to you by our friends at Lumien’.

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