Over the past couple of months we have been discussing key ways to improve employee engagement. Today we are going to discuss the paramount role of the manager in any company, small, medium or large. Organizations depend on great managers to break ground, succeed, push limits and lead their teams to compete in today’s market. There is a significant leap between good and great, but it is hard to pin-point exactly what makes great management great.
Gallup reports that companies are, time and again, failing to fill management positions with the right talent. In the Gallup Business Journal article Why Great Managers are So Rare they discuss the indisputable correlation between organizational success, employee engagement, and great management. But why does it seem so hard to find just the right person to fit the bill?
Because it is. Very hard.
The “great manager grand slam” is finding a person, according to Gallup, that has some very particular qualities:
- Great managers have to be motivators. In other words, they need to empower their employees and help them succeed as individuals and a team. The old-fashioned hierarchy of management where employees scrambled to make their team leader shine is gone. A great expression used in this Forbes article calls this “leading from behind.”
- A great manager is assertive. She sets and communicates expectations, boundaries, and team objectives. Being assertive does not mean being disrespectful or authoritarian. There’s a difference between having employees comply with expectations than having employees commit to them, and, in turn, exceeding them because they respect their manager and her position.
- Great management creates a culture of accountability – one in which each team member embraces his work and behavior and takes responsibility for them. It is not fair to good employees to let problem ones get away with inappropriate behavior or poor work habits. This can be tricky when an employee is a friend or has taken a position that the manager can empathize with. A manager, though, has been hired to make tough decisions, keeping in line with company objectives and goals. It is his responsibility to make sure his team is doing the same.
- Great managers must be effective communicators, building relationships with workers on both professional and personal levels. This also means they need to be sharing, not hoarding, company information. They need to help create a culture of transparency so that every employee can understand and internalize organizational objectives and be part of the decision-making process to reach them. She can not be barking … or texting … orders.
- Finally, a great manager has to be objective, a good decision maker, basing her decisions on an employee’s or team’s production, not politics. One of the biggest employee engagement derailers is a culture of rubbing elbows instead of one of good old fashioned elbow grease and production.
Though Gallup reports that fewer than one in ten people have all these skills, the upside to all this is that many people have several of these skills. Education, coaching, workshops, and professional development can help a person acquire new skills as well as hone existing ones. This requires the company to constantly evaluate skills and team production, finding ways to improve team effectiveness by improving management. Strong, directed managers build the foundation for employee engagement and an organization’s overall success.