Overmanaged and underled bad combo

score I had a discussion with an ex-manager of ATT in DelRay Beach, Florida, about what ailed American companies. We agreed that too many are overmanaged and underled.

For the boss, overmanagement is spending too much time making sure employees do the work they're supposed to do. "Why won't my employees do what I ask them to do?" the boss asks.

For employees, it's an excess of adult supervision. Too many reports, too many meetings, too much interference, too much second-guessing. "Why won't the boss get out of our way and let us do our job?" employees ask.

The idea that companies are underled may be a little harder to grasp. That suggests that companies are overrun with nitpicking, paper-pushing busybodies who call themselves managers. Conversely, there may be a shortage of resourceful, charismatic and daring leaders who with the snap of their fingers can make anyting happen.

In reality, managers with good skills and a little luck can reach the top of their professions.

But sometimes, after they're in the No. 1 spot, people are gunning for them every time they step out on the court. Managers need a different balance of skills to keep the leadershop position. When you're on top, people not only start paying attention to you, but they also start taking shots at you.

Here's a situation where an organization can be underled: When you're building the business, you pay people what the company can afford; when the company hits its goals, you need to adjust the compensation level to ensure the team stays intact.

Being top dog is one of those times when competition goes on a recruiting campaign. Your employees need to feel they're an integral part of the team that helped secure the No. 1 spot so they don't succumb to a competitive offer.

Bill Bryan is a counselor with the Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE offers counseling, workshops and seminars on small business operations. You can reach Bryan through SCORE, 515 N Court St. 815-962-0122, for information and appointments.

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