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Go Forth and Multiply

by Mark Deavall, September 2011

I can understand if you thought that this article was about procreation, but I have to disappoint you. It's not! This article is about you as a manager. Now you may ask, "How does the title of the article affect me as a manager? Why and how should I go forth and multiply?" Well read on and you'll see.

A little while ago I was chatting to a manager who felt very proud of himself. He had just been through his performance appraisal and came out with flying colours. But what really puffed his chest out was that his manager had told him that he is indispensable in the role that he is in, and that he holds the department together. Without him the department would not be able to function. This manager was really proud of himself and felt immensely valued. His self-esteem was at an all-time high.

And well it should be. This is what he had been working for all his life. This is what had been drummed into him since he was old enough to think - "always do your best and make yourself indispensable". This manager felt that he had reached the pinnacle of his work life at that moment.

So we chatted further about his work, and don't get me wrong, he was very competent, efficient and committed. But he had one frustration. He had now been in the same position for a number of years and he felt that he was going nowhere. Some of his peers had been moved, given new opportunities and been promoted. He felt that he was being overlooked when opportunities arose. So we decided to take a look at what was holding him back in terms of the company giving him new opportunities.

Well, for him the lights went on pretty quickly. He realised that this performance appraisal of which he was immensely proud, was in fact a death sentence. Yes he was very, very good at what he was doing. He managed his team very well and they achieved all their productivity targets. But he had not groomed and trained anyone else to do his job. In other words, this manager had created a prison for himself - he was so good at what he was doing, that the company was at risk if they moved or promoted him.

What this manager finally realised is that if you don't "obsolete" yourself, and continue to hang onto your "turf", it becomes very difficult for your employer to do anything with you other than keep you in the position or role that you are in. One of the core functions of any manager is to develop new managers; to identify management potential and then to train and mentor that person until they are as good as what you are. Then the company can move you or promote you with no risk to the department that you are leaving.

But, in the hurly burly of everyday living, this core function is more often than not, overlooked. Oh we identify potential, but we feed that information to the human resources department and expect them to take care of it. And they do. They arrange training for this person and before you know it, this individual is moved from your department to a more responsible position, and you have lost that talent.

This manager realised the fateful error that he had made. But the question he asked was, "how do I develop new managers? So I told him:

  • 1) Show them how to identify talent
  • 2) Show them how to influence people
  • 3) Show them how to build and maintain an effective team
  • 4) Show them how to get willing productivity out of their team
  • 5) Show them how to be well liked, but for the right reasons
  • 6) Show them how lead a team and an individual

So this manager is doing all this, and is now building an effective career for himself. Because he took to heart the admonishment: "go forth and multiply"

I trust that you have found benefit in this article. If you would like to contact me or have me talk to the people in your company, please call me on 27 11 609-1264, or e-mail me

For more articles, go to Mark’s blogs and on Twitter at 

This article is protected by international copyright law. If you would like to copy this article for any reason, please be sure to copy the entire article including this line. 

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