There are two big challenges that a manager of manager faces – developing his/her manager and giving developmental feedback to him/her.
The biggest challenge a manager of manager faces in developing his direct report is – not to be directive. It’s the easiest way to get things done, so most managers love to be that way. The risk is also the lowest – you get exactly the output you want, the way you want it, every step is just the way you would do it. There lies the pitfall – how sure are you, that your direct report could not have done something better with it ?
I was talking to one of my managers yesterday about one of his direct report and I said – stay away from doing his job. You do yours and let your direct report do his. It’s easy for you to do his job because you know better, but if you do that he will not learn and the behaviour goes all the way to the front line manager. In most organizations, each manager is doing work that is to be done by his direct report – dumbing down the entire chain. Then we go around wondering why we don’t have great managers. Let them do their work and learn to be great managers !! One of my earliest coaches said to me – don’t accept work that is not upto the mark, but don’t correct it yourself, ask your direct report who did the work to correct it. That’s important for his/her development. I have never forgotten that lesson ! I also see why it’s easy to be directive – and so easy to slip into the rut.
The other challenge I discussed was – developmental feedback has to be for the current role the person is in, not for a future role he/she aspires to be in. That’s the other pitfall most manager of managers fall into. It’s easy to say you need to develop this skill to reach the next role – not as easy to tell what’s not working in the current role. The colleague assumes that you are willing to look at him/her in the next role and if you are not, then back tracking is so difficult.
Let your direct report do their job, help, but don’t do their work for them and give them developmental feedback for their current role, not the future role. Smarten up!