Not easy to be a top manager
WHEN have you ever heard a kid say they want to be a manager when they grow up?
Childhood dreams of jobs seldom extend outside the realm of princess or policeman.
“Most people are an accidental manager,” Australian Institute of Management Qld and NT chief executive officer Vivienne Anthon said.
“But management matters. If we have a bad one, it has grave implications for an organisation and its productivity, but also for individuals and for stress.”
Ms Anthon began her adult life with dreams of becoming, not a manager, but a lawyer.
“I went to Australian National University and got a law degree and a husband – terribly efficient,” she said.
“But it quickly became apparent that I wasn’t in love with law.
“I knew very early on that I was more about managing the lawyers than being the lawyer.
“I am far more interested in working with people to be as productive as they can be.”
Ms Anthon shifted to managing advertising and marketing teams in Toowoomba before moving into teaching and then a head role in a suburban Brisbane Anglican school.
Always “intrigued by trying different things”, she started a management consultancy to test if management skills were generic.
“Could I transport those skills to another environment without falling on my face?
“I ended up working with financial planners. I did interim CEO jobs, I ran a debt collection agency – that was a real dinner party stopper and it gave me some great stories.
“I had a great time being a manager and then I came into contact with AIM.”
She has been acting CEO since last March and was formally appointed in October.
“Good managers must balance the short term and long term, the individual and the organisational.
“Many of us do the daily stuff which leaves us bereft of tomorrow. Others think about tomorrow – which gives you a lot of ideas but no one executing them.
“Then others only think about the individual which can be too introspective; and there are others who only think about the organisation and they burn out.
“No-one teaches us to be managers.
“Everyone thinks ‘I’m a person too, I’m polite and courteous, I don’t mean to dud anyone, surely I should know this people management business’. Well it’s not true. Being a good manager is like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a never-ending job.
Ms Anthon said AIM came into its own in shaping good managers with a raft of professional development courses.
She said the content often changed to reflect the economic conditions.
“When the GFC really hit, people wanted courses on productivity, quality improvement and marketing because all the marketing managers had been cut.
“When the pendulum swings to the employee, people send managers back for motivation, courses about retention and having good conversations.”
Anna Bligh: “Her management of the current situation was all about communication, confidence and comfort.”
Ric Charlesworth: “He knows how to manage a situation, to plan and then execute. His philosophy is about doing a task well every single time, without being flashy.”