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  • Sandeep Juneja

The Dangers of an ‘Accidental Manager’

Do you know of an accidental manager in your company? Chances are there are several of them. Have you considered how you might suggest they address their knowledge gaps?

In my prior article I described Accidental Managers in the Marketing Function as being particularly dangerous to the financial wellbeing of a business. So, what is an Accidental Manager? and why is this a problem?


The Accidental Manager Unveiled

An Accidental Manager typically finds themselves in a leadership position within the marketing department not through a deliberate career path but through circumstance. Often, this is indicative of a broader organizational issue, such as a weak or non-existent human resources function. While their intentions may be good, their lack of formal marketing training is a critical handicap.


Many Accidental Managers view marketing through a narrow lens, perceiving it as a purely creative endeavour rather than an evidence-based discipline. This misconception can lead to decisions that are not just suboptimal but downright harmful to the business. Their backgrounds might vary from graphic design to sales administration, or simply that of being related to the founder. What is important is that the common thread is a profound misunderstanding of the scope and potential of marketing.


The Core Limitations of Accidental Managers in Marketing

1.    Lack of a Macro Perspective:

Understanding the laws, theories, and frameworks of marketing is crucial for scaling and expanding a customer base. Without this macro perspective, Accidental Managers struggle to apply effective strategies for growth.


2.    Limited Understanding of Trends, Tools, and Technologies: A superficial awareness of marketing trends does not suffice. The inability to deeply understand and leverage these trends can leave a business vulnerable and unprepared.


3.    Ineffective Leadership and Decision-making: Leading without vision or understanding can render the marketing function insignificant, especially during economic downturns, risking severe consequences.


4.    Incapacity for Conducting Essential Audits: Without the ability to perform brand and strategy audits, businesses remain clueless about their current market position and trajectory, and where they need to move to in order to achieve their business objectives.


Mitigating the Risks

Addressing the issue of Accidental Managers involves more than just patchwork solutions. Comprehensive professional development, supported by training and continuous learning opportunities, is crucial. Encouraging participation in accredited courses offered by institutions such as the CIM | The Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Chartered Management Institute can dramatically enhance their competency and effectiveness.

Moreover, the adoption of robust HR policies, guides, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) is essential to prevent the proliferation of Accidental Managers across the organization. Consulting with experts who specialize in these areas can provide valuable insights and strategies for improvement.


On the marketing front, our firm Sandeep Juneja & Associates offers advisory services at the board level, managing the company's marketing function temporarily or in collaboration with the existing department head. Our approach is to infuse the marketing department with deep expertise and broad experience, ensuring that marketing strategies are not only creatively inspired but also grounded in solid, evidence-based practices.

The presence of an Accidental Manager in key marketing roles is a challenge that, while daunting, is not insurmountable. With the right interventions and strategic focus, companies can transform potential weaknesses into strengths, fostering a culture of continuous learning and strategic acumen that propels the business forward. #accidentalmanager #leadership #management #marketing #businesstransformation #corporateculture

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