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Influencers

Bad bosses — or bad hiring?

(Thinkstock)

(Thinkstock)

Bosses. We can’t work without them — but  sometimes we just can’t stand to be supervised under their beady eye.

This week, a number of LinkedIn Influencers weighed in on the idea of managers and bosses, from a variety of perspectives: why managers should always employ people who are smarter than they are, how not to be a boss-hater and the absolute worst ways to hire a manager.

Here’s what some of them had to say.

James Caan, entrepreneur, chief executive officer at Hamilton Bradshaw Ltd

It is human nature, but it is sometimes the case that managers will not want to employ an individual who could potentially challenge their position or undermine authority within the workplace,” but that is a big mistake, wrote Caan in his post The Key to Success: Hiring People Better Than You.

Caan cited managers he has spoken to who don’t want to hire highly-smart and driven people because they “are worried that someone overly-ambitious and driven is going to upset the equilibrium within the workplace. He wrote they have got themselves into a position of authority and almost feel as if they have to defend it. It is those managers who forget one important tenet of the workplace: “any decision that is made by a manager should always be taken for the good of the organisation as a whole rather than what best suits individuals,” he wrote.

What’s a manager to do, then? “It can be a sign of strength in an individual to recognise when you are not good at something, so you can bring someone in who is,” wrote Caan. Yes, he wrote, that means hiring people who are smarter than you or more talented in areas where you might be weaker or have less expertise.

“For example, we are operating in a fast moving environment where new forms of communication such as social media are going to have a bigger role in the world of business,” he wrote. “Younger people have grown up with the technology and almost take it completely for granted. It makes sense to take on someone who understands and feels comfortable with social media.”

Hiring people who are better than you can push your business forward, Caan wrote, but will also “naturally improve your own skill set.” And that, he wrote, is a key to your success as a manager or executive, too.

Jack Welch, executive chairman at the Jack Welch Management Institute

Feel as if nothing is going right at the top of your company or department? “If you have a gloomy view of the working world, take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if you might just be a boss-hater,” wrote Welch in his post Are You a Boss-Hater? Not sure? Do you have an “everyone’s dumb but me” attitude to your workplace? Then you might be a boss-hater, Welch wrote.

“Very few people would ever identify themselves as boss-haters. They usually see themselves as noble victims, speaking truth to power. Forget that line,” he wrote. “Boss-haters enter into any authority relationship with barely repressed cynicism and ingrained negativity toward ‘the system.’ And even though their reasons may be varied, from upbringing to personality to political bent, boss-haters are unified in their inability to see the value in any person above them in a hierarchy.”

Because they are often highly-intelligent, many actually briefly get ahead in companies and organisations, Welch wrote. “The boss-haters in any organization tend to find each other, and once in numbers, they usually become quite outspoken,” he added. But often colleagues will distance themselves from such boss-haters, or worse, he wrote.

Not sure whether you’re a boss-hater? “Think of a boss you’ve encountered who didn’t have a problem. If you can’t, the problem may be something you can fix just by opening up your mind,” Welch wrote.

Dr Marla Gottschalk practice manager, organisational development, at Rand Gottschalk

“We've all heard the stories of managers who simply are not up to the challenge of managing others,” wrote Gottschalk in her post How Not to Choose a Manager. “They can bring frustration, exasperation and havoc to a workplace. An unprepared manager can spoil an otherwise healthy environment in no time at all — driving away the most talented of contributors.”

But what’s the real problem here? The selection of this manager to lead in the first place, wrote Gottschalk. “Great managers don't simply manage the numbers — they coach, clarify goals, provide feedback, align work with our strengths and inspire. But, the role is not for every individual who excels in their source area of expertise,” she wrote. But first, it’s important to identify what not to do when selecting managers, Gottschalk wrote. She explained six  guidelines. For starters, don’t assume someone wants the role of manager. “This is our first mistake — and it's key. Often, the single most critical question is never fully considered: Do you truly want to manage others at this juncture in your career?,” she wrote.

Another don’t: overestimating the importance of technical expertise during selection. “What sets apart effective managers is the orientation they have toward their staff. They express real concern for their team, have open conversations and are willing to provide ongoing support. Although important, when ranking the "8 habits" of highly effective managers, (even) Google found that deep technical expertise came in dead last.”