Author Peter Drucker wrote extensively on the subject of management and yet he remained skeptical of management – “So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work.”
“She stood over an employee for two hours until she agreed to sign an appraisal she disagreed with.”
“He kept kissing people on top of their heads.”
Just some of the submissions to a People Management survey earlier this year, looking at what HR thought of managers in their respective organizations.
Managers often get a bad reputation, somewhat driven by the type of comments highlighted above and a feeling in some quarters that managers don’t add value.
But are we being totally fair if we subscribe to this view?
In most instances a manager’s role is pretty diverse; managers are asked to communicate vision, act as a coach, mediate in disputes and assume accountability for business results - often with the background of being promoted into a managerial role having been a technical expert in their previous role, rather than necessarily having demonstrated leadership and management capability.
Is it any wonder that a number of managers then underperform.
So what can we do to help managers in the workplace?
Organizational Culture – culture and values are intrinsically linked to management behaviours, do the priorities set at the C-suite level encourage the type of behaviours you want from your managers or the opposite? There is not necessarily a right or wrong in terms of your organization’s management culture, however there should be synergy across the organization. It is also worth remembering that in tough economic times the need for “good” management is probably more important than in times of plenty.
Good management can turn organizations from good to great, help drive change and engage and empower employees.
Management Capability – consider some form of management training, ideally as people come into the job – don’t wait 20 years to enroll someone on their first management program, you wouldn’t allow a bus driver to drive a city bus without passing their driving test! At Bluegem Learning we have worked with managers from a wide range of businesses internationally to help build management capability on a range of subjects from what motivates people, performance management, coaching, how to have difficult conversations and personal resilience to name but a few. And the results ….
By using the techniques learned on one of our programs, one participant reduced absenteeism in her team by 15%, saving her organization $18,000 over 3 months.
A second participant improved production by 10% during a production run and brought the project in ahead of time and under budget after using the coaching techniques practiced on another program.
Self Awareness – look at increasing managers self awareness of how they behave in the workplace and how they can interact even better with others. There are a range of useful tools on the market, one I particularly like is the MiRo behavioural assessment - managers gain insights into behaviour, motivations, communication and relationships, make better decisions, deal with change and personnel more effectively. So what do people say …
“Using MiRo in our team building activity has allowed us to understand ourselves, our colleagues and the dynamic that drives our team. Everyone found the results both accurate and enlightening, and together we have created strong strategies for moving forward as a high performing team.”
Proper Incentives – ensure that the rewards and compensation system you have in place rewards the behaviours you want displayed by your managers and isn’t puling people in the opposite direction. People will only demonstrate particular behaviours if there is a good reason. If a Sales Manager simply receives a target-related bonus where is the incentive to focus on motivating and developing their team, however if the latter is built into their bonus package, how much more of an incentive does it become to demonstrate those behaviours?