There’s a lot of focus on remote worker productivity and engagement in our strange new world. However, while they are crucial to success, you cannot overlook the effectiveness of your managers. If management is dropping the ball, it doesn’t matter what else you do.
How do you ensure manager effectiveness, though? It will require intentionally setting goals and following the right strategy, but it can be done. In this guide, we’ll explore what decision-makers need to know to maximize manager effectiveness.
Why Does Manager Effectiveness Matter?
In a business, you have managers and you have leaders. Often, they’re looked at as performing very similar roles. However, that’s pretty far from the truth. Managers should not be doing the same thing as business leaders, because their role is vastly different.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack. This is the exact opposite of what great leaders do. Great leaders discover what is universal and capitalize on it. Their job is to rally people toward a better future. Leaders can succeed in this only when they can cut through differences of race, sex, age, nationality, and personality and, using stories and celebrating heroes, tap into those very few needs we all share.”
Obviously, managers cannot follow the same template as leaders to maximize effectiveness. Their roles are simply too dissimilar. So, what should you do to help managers grow and improve?
Set the Stage
The first and most important consideration is to make sure that everyone is on the same playing field. Set the stage for success by creating a set of agreements with all of your managers. These should be based on:
- Formal job duties and responsibilities
- Company expectations for manager performance
- Individual competencies
- How success will be measured for their efforts
- The metrics used in the measurement process
When you set the stage, you ensure that everyone understands what’s expected of them, how you will measure their achievements and more.
Like employees, managers should be given the opportunity to assess themselves. They should identify their strengths and weaknesses, areas where growth is necessary, and even what they personally want to learn to become more effective in their role. Also, managers should have the opportunity to assess what they need from you, the employer, to maximize their effectiveness. After all, no one can succeed if they’re not provided with the right tools.
Like employees, managers require regular assessments to ensure that they’re meeting performance expectations. The information in the self-assessment should be used as one of the multiple touchstones in that process. Also like employees, managers thrive better when assessments are provided regularly – think biweekly or monthly, rather than annually or twice annually. Keep your assessments less formal and more like check-ins.
Managers are usually hired or promoted to the position with a specific set of skills. However, that doesn’t mean those are the only skills they will need. This is particularly true if you want to ensure that they are as effective as possible. One way to ensure that their effectiveness improves over time is to connect your performance management efforts with learning and development (L&D).
Ongoing training is a vital consideration. No one knows everything. Everyone can improve their skills and knowledge in key areas over time, explore new areas of learning, and master additional things. All of that makes managers more effective at what they do. Encourage your managers to become lifelong learners and make sure that you have a robust L&D initiative to support them in that journey.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, managers excel at determining (and then exploiting in a positive way) the unique skillsets, talents, and abilities of the people they manage. However, managers aren’t born with the innate ability to identify what makes each employee unique or to uncover a skill that the employee themselves might not have known they possessed.
Help your managers develop that ability. Train them to look deeply into the people they manage, identify their talents and abilities, not just the knowledge they bring with them to the workplace. Train managers to see an individual’s potential and then work with employees to achieve that.
Prepare to Deal with Conflict
Conflict will arise on any team. Even the most laidback employees will eventually come into conflict in some way, on some matter. A skilled manager must be able to deal with that conflict in the correct way. They must be able to defuse tension and alleviate stress, helping to put the team back on even footing and to smooth away the problems that conflict causes.
Finally, to be as effective as possible, managers must be able to delegate. In a sense, that’s the heart of managing. However, it goes deeper than simply ensuring that duties and responsibilities are handed out and are being handled appropriately. At some points, the manager may need to take a long, hard look at his or her own responsibilities and be prepared to delegate them.
One issue that often derails a manager’s effectiveness is the desire (seen as a need) to micromanage. As a manager, they cannot have their hand in every project. They cannot be involved in everything. Encourage managers to take a step back and ensure that they’re managing, but not micromanaging.
Build Your Management Team
With the tips and tricks we’ve outlined above, you should be prepared to begin building (or rebuilding) your management team. Maximizing management’s effectiveness is possible, but it will require that you take a strategic approach and ensure that your managers are both on board with learning new skills to develop themselves and able to avoid micromanaging employees. With a planned approach, you can build a management team that will lead the business to success.