How do you know managers in your organization are effective? Though the obvious way to assess a manager is through the results his or her team accomplishes there’s a risk in only monitoring results. A team could reach its own goals yet not provide needed deliverables to other departments, i.e. internal customers. Or a team could achieve its goals but leave team members feeling used, abused and unmotivated. So what should you look for in determining manager effectiveness?
Following are tips for examining whether your managers are building bench strength as well as fostering engagement and loyalty among their team members:
1. Is the manager a role model?
If the answer is “I’d like everyone reporting to this manager to pattern themselves after his or her interpersonal communication skills (no gossip, good eye contact, amiable greeting,) reliability, solid work ethic, objectivity, sense of urgency to accomplish projects, personal presentation (e.g. appropriate attire, appropriate language at work, etc.)” that’s a good thing. If that is not your answer, you have some coaching and development to do with that manager.
2. Does the manager convey to his or her team not only the team’s goals but how their group projects fit into the company’s goals and strategy?
You can find this out through casual conversation with the managers’ direct reports. Also, ask yourself if you’ve conveyed the company’s goals and strategies to the manager in question. This communication should be a cascading process that starts at the top of the organization and works its way to all employees via their managers.
3. Does the manager provide clear direction to his or her direct reports?
This starts from the moment a new employee is brought onto the team. Does the manager have a checklist to onboard the new employee? Are all employees given clear expectations for projects including timeframes for completion? Does the manager make clear what interdependencies may be part of a project; what people or departments need to be in the loop?
4. Does the manager assess what training and development needs each of his or her direct reports requires to be successful?
Every project requires certain knowledge and skills for successful accomplishment. Does the manager take into account the team’s repository of skills and knowledge and are projects assigned that match what each individual is capable of delivering? If not, does the manager take measures to augment employee skills and knowledge?
5. Does the manager have regularly schedule meetings with his or her direct reports to provide direction and performance feedback as well as be a sounding board for problem solving?
In an age where many managers plates are full to overflowing, the foundation of every effective management relationship – regular communication – often falls by the wayside. In particular, the massive drift toward a reliance on electronic communication reinforces the illusion that everything can easily be communicated via email or text messages. If managers have shifted from face-to-face and/or phone meetings (in which more nuanced communication occurs,) to mostly email, it’s likely that they do not have their fingers on the emotional pulse of the team e.g. individual project challenges, interpersonal communication issues with other team members, motivation issues, obstacles with resources or other departments etc.
6. Does the manager provide positive acknowledgement for a job well done?
Integral Talent Systems, Inc. (ITS), a Palo Alto based firm, has conducted thousands of exit interview responses in multiple firms and has ranked the reasons people leave their jobs voluntarily. The number one reason for leaving provided in these interviews is a lack of recognition for contributions employees make on the job. Though company-wide programs that provide rewards and recognition are good, it is the manager’s acknowledgment of employee accomplishments that have a much bigger impact on retention according to Dr. Lynn Ware, ITS President and CEO.
How do you know if managers are praising good performance? You can ask the manager directly for examples of the last time they provided positive feedback on someone’s work and be clear that you expect this to occur on a daily basis. Also, start by examining your own feedback habits. It’s likely that managers that report to you think of you as their role model and echo many of your management practices. Ask yourself, “Do I catch people doing things right? Or do I only make mention of problems and poor performance?” If your answer is the latter, you may need to modify your own management style before you can help your managers improve theirs.