Certified for Life – Good Enough for Managers but Not Doctors

Paul Hebert Leadership, Organizational Development, Paul Hebert, Performance

Sealofapprovel This might be old news to some of you, but Doctors used to be certified for life.  Doctors could get their rather substantial education, take their boards and be certified to treat just about anything.  But sometime in the 1990’s, that changed.  Doctors must now retest every 6 to 10 years.

I don’t know about you but I didn’t know that the Doctor I visited in 1995 might have been certified in 1950 and never had to have been tested on whether he’d/she’d kept up with the latest and greatest info on health and treatment. (Come to think of it – it might just explain the leeches and why he hit me in the mouth with a chicken gizzard for stuttering.)

Recertification for Doctors is a good thing.  Most of what a Doctor learns in school is obsolete within 5 years or so.  Ensuring our health providers give us the absolute best treatment is just smart.

Managers – Certified for Life

Contrast that with your management team.  I’ve gone on the record quite a bit that I believe managers are the real key to business performance.  They can make or break a company.  A great manager spawns many great managers.  A bad manager eliminates future great managers and many times eliminates many great employees as well due to turnover.  So, if you believe as I do that Management as a practice and a profession is critical to driving business growth, profit, and performance, why not certify them?

How many of the managers in your company are certified?

Wait… Is there a certification?

Checking the most authoritative source in the world – I Googled it.  There are certifications for project management, business process management, weight management (I don’t think that one counts), but I could only find one that focused solely on the practice of management by itself.  It is from James Madison University.  But check out the course outline – – Planning/Organizing and Leading/Controlling. Those are so 1960’s.  Business is changing fast from our industrial age, command and control focus to a much more chaotic, guide and herd focus.  We are managing creative people now.  Our jobs are more heuristic and less algorithmic – making management a much more difficult and critical part of the success equation.  This certification could get you qualified for a job on Mad Men but not in today’s world.  It’s just different – and harder.

HR has their certification process and it’s respected and requested.  Heck it is almost a requirement for getting any HR job at a larger company.  Project managers have certification programs.  Accountants have certification programs.  But managers – regardless of “function”?  No certification.

Managers should be certified.

And over time they should be recertified.  I’d even suggest that the higher up in the company you go, the more often you should recertify.  Call it a “reality check” to keep those C-level folks from thinking they aren’t responsible for managing people any more.

My Recommendation

Create your own internal management certification process.  Require any manager, or would-be manager, to certify and recertify at least every other year.  Courses on leadership, motivation, influence, psychology, statistics, software – and MOST importantly – CULTURE.  Managers need to be certified so they understand and can recognize behaviors that reinforce the culture.

Steakknives Our managers need to be as up-to-date as our Doctors are.

Or you just might have a bunch of managers using steak knives as rewards in an incentive program!