January 31, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Becoming a first-time manager can be tough. New managers are often pulled in many directions, and it can seem like the to-do list never ends. But if you ask any successful manager how they manage it all, it’s likely they will say the key is this:
Poor time management skills can result in missed deadlines, dissatisfied clients, and even increased overtime costs. Not only do today’s managers today need to focus on ensuring they are managing their time well, but they should also help their employees do the same.
- Plan and set goals: Work with employees to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. For each goal, agree to a timeline for completion and break the goal down into small, manageable assignments. Consider providing employees with task management tools, such as online calendars, project management programs, or a simple to-do list.
- Prioritize: Help employees prioritize their responsibilities based on customer benefit and urgency and encourage them to complete tasks starting with those with the highest priority This process requires effective communication to ensure that priorities are properly aligned with company goals.
- Organize: Every minute lost because of a misplaced tool, or document is a minute that could have been spent completing a task. Emphasize the importance of an organized work space to help maximize efficiency.
- Streamline: Evaluate processes and procedures regularly to ensure efficiency. Managers should have regular discussions with employees to get their insight on more efficient methods for completing their job responsibilities.
- Delegate: Proper delegation can ensure the right tasks are assigned to the right people. But, there is more to delegating than simply assigning a task. Explain job duties thoroughly, work with employees to develop a plan for completing the task, monitor progress, and provide the resources and support necessary to reach assigned goals. Most important, share your own knowledge if you, yourself, have done the job before. They will appreciate that personal “shared learning.”
- Dedicate time for less pleasant work: It’s human nature to sometimes procrastinate, especially when a difficult or undesirable assignment presents itself. To help employees stay focused, break large projects into smaller parts and schedule specific time (such as the beginning of the workday) for the larger or more unpleasant projects.
- Manage communications: For employees on a tight deadline, answering phone calls and emails can be distracting. Consider establishing guidelines for responding to these types of communications. For example, when employees are on a tight deadline, ask them to check voicemail and email at set intervals and respond to urgent communications first. All other communications can be put on hold until after important projects have been completed.
- Avoid interruptions: Whenever possible, schedule important job duties for a part of the day when there are fewer disruptions. For example, if an employee is the first one in the office in the morning, this may be a good time to work on assignments that require more concentration. Also, remind employees that interruptions are inevitable, and for planning purposes, they should allow a little extra time for unexpected interruptions.
- Schedule tasks for peak performance: If possible, physically or mentally demanding work should be scheduled for when workers are at peak performance. This may vary depending on each employee. Encourage employees to consider when they have the most energy and suggest that, if possible, they to focus on bigger or more important projects during those times.
- Help ensure proper balance: No matter how well employees manage their time at work, they are unlikely to perform at their best if they return to work each day stressed or lacking energy. Provide employees with regular rest breaks throughout the day and be aware of applicable state meal and rest break requirements. Consider a wellness program that encourages healthy habits and encourage employees to use their vacation time.
“Effective time management is important for any business and can be especially important for new managers working with employees that often have multiple responsibilities,” says Rush. “As a manager, it is your responsibility to provide your employees with the training and tools they need to optimize their performance.”
Use these ten tips to do just that.
January 26, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
For many managers, especially first-time managers, giving candid, constructive feedback is the toughest part of their jobs.
And that’s why disciplining and/or terminating employees is so difficult for recent college grads and entry-level managers, says Don Maruska, founder and CEO of three Silicon Valley companies author of How Great Decisions Get Made and Take Charge of Your Talent.
“Many supervisors shy away from giving effective feedback because they fear how employees will react,” says Maruska, who earned his BA magna cum laude from Harvard and his MBA and JD from Stanford, and also previously led projects for McKinsey & Company, a trusted advisor and counselor to many of the world’s most influential businesses and institutions. “When they finally give the feedback, they often have built up such frustration that the feedback becomes an unproductive battle rather than a positive step forward.”
Because many managers lack the proper training, preparation, or confidence disciplining or terminating an employee, they may ignore the situation. That’s the wrong approach.
“Don’t let the sun set without giving feedback on any performance that isn’t on target,” says Maruska. “That may sound like a tough standard, but every day that goes by only makes the situation more difficult.”
Tips for disciplining an employee
Lois Barth, a human development expert, career/life coach, motivational speaker and author of the new book, Courage to Sparkle, says managers should look to educate and create consensus versus simply just disciplining an employee, or scolding them for poor performance or breaking company rules or policies that don’t quite warrant termination. When there is a situation when you have to discipline someone, focus on their behavior versus them as a person, says Barth.
“As a manager, when you can call out their behavior versus their value as a human being, people will feel less defensive,” says Barth. “Instead of punishing the employee, use your authority as a leader to educate them on why that policy is in place. When people can wrap their mind around the why they are usually pretty good with the what.”
Maruska provides this highly effective formula for providing feedback when disciplining employees that yields constructive results:
Intention: State your intention clearly in terms that show what’s in it for the employee and the firm. For example, “Sam, I want you to be a productive and successful contributor to our team’s growth.”
Observation: Describe what you observe in objective terms. Think through your feedback so that you can deliver it in ways that identify behavior rather than challenge the person’s worth. For example, “When the sales reports arrive after noon on Friday, our team can’t get the results out in time for the sales people to plan next week’s priorities.”
Request: Make it simple, short, and direct. For example, “Sam, will you give me a plan for how you can reliably deliver the sales reports by noon each Friday?”
Confirmation: Be clear about your agreement. For example, “I’ll look forward to your plan by the close of the day tomorrow. OK?”
Tips for terminating an employee
Terminating an employee can be stressful and nerve-wracking for first-time managers. Managers who have access to HR departments, or legal resources within their company should utilize those resources before terminating an employee. It may even be beneficial to have HR lead the meeting, and/or be present in the room during the meeting. HR can also provide the terminated employee with information on paperwork, issue the final paycheck if applicable, and provide any other legal, contractual information, or papers to sign. If it’s a small company, don’t hesitate to ask the company owner or other leadership to be in the room when terminating an employee. Eric Meyer, a partner in Philadelphia-based Dilworth Paxson LLP’s labor and employment group, recommends at least two people be present during any termination meeting. The reason, says Meyer, is so one person can take notes of what is said. If there is litigation, this will avoid a dispute about what was actually said.
In some cases, a termination is obvious, and warrants nothing more than a straight-forward statement, simply saying “thank you for your work, but we have decided to terminate your employment.” Be prepared for the employee to be frustrated, especially if they don’t feel it’s warranted.
If the conversation goes deeper, do not attack the individual.
“Terminations get messy when the terminated employee feels that his or her self-worth is on the line,” says Maruska. “You need to separate performance from the person.”
If feedback is given during a termination meeting, especially if an employee is let go through a layoff, or because the company is downsizing, highlight the strengths of the employee, and tell the employee you’d like to support them in their next step or opportunity. “This is not only more humane but also quicker and cheaper than making the termination a contest of wills,” says Maruska.
And finally, practice before you go live with either a discipline or termination meeting. Being straightforward and clear can be a tough transition for recent college grads, especially new managers who are now managing friends, so find opportunities to practice giving feedback with another manager, colleague, or friend. Focus on your tone, body language, and non-verbal cues to come off polished and professional. Most of all, be confident in your delivery.
Having difficult conversations is difficult. But it’s part of what it takes for millennials to be a good manager. Follow these tips and prepare now to succeed later when terminating or disciplining and employee.
January 25, 2017 by Guest writer Bill Driscoll, District President of Accountemps
Are communication skills a factor in deciding who gets a promotion?
According to research from Accountemps, CFOs say poor interpersonal skills is the most common reason for employees to fail to advance at their company. For example, you need verbal communication skills to explain the reasoning behind business decisions to various audiences. You need to master public speaking or presentation skills in order to move up the ladder into leadership roles. Even if you are in an entry-level position, it’s not too early to learn to present information in a compelling way, and to package information and explain technical information to stakeholders.
What are examples of how employees do not have good communication skills?
Many people have poor communication in various ways: in writing, phone conversations and face-to-face. Written communications shouldn’t be longwinded. You should write in crisp and highly focused style, and error-free. If you are easily distracted during phone conversations or worry your message could be misconstrued, consider meeting in person. This will also help build rapport with your colleagues. Don’t send mixed signals with your body language. Face the person you are speaking with and make eye contact. Be an active listener by nodding or giving small verbal cues occasionally, without interrupting, to let them know you understand.
What is the difference between communicating well as a team member, and communicating well as a manager?
Staff members should communicate clearly to avoid confusion on their projects and ensure they’re in sync with colleagues. Managers need to communicate their vision of what success on a project looks like, and what expectations are of each individual, to ensure everyone is on the same page. They also need to deliver clear messages to senior executives to gain additional resources or support.
How can someone improve their communication skills?
With time and practice, communication skills can be learned. Ask a mentor or manager to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses. Also, research professional development opportunities your company may offer. Seek out online courses. The internet offers a wide variety of effective training options for professionals looking to improve their verbal communication skills. Utilize resources provided by trade associations. Professional organizations can help their members update their knowledge of fundamental business skills through seminars and workshops.
About Bill Driscoll: Bill Driscoll is the New England District President of Accountemps, a division of Robert Half. Bill oversees professional staffing services for Robert Half’s 23 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island and portions of New York. He serves as a national spokesperson for Accountemps and has been featured in several top publications, including the Wall Street Journaland the Boston Globe. He has also made appearances on local and national outlets, including WFXT, WBZ, WCVB, NECN, PBS and Fox Business News. Bill is considered a local and national expert on recruiting practices, hiring and job search trends, and other workplace issues.
January 24, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Becoming a manager provides great on-the-job training opportunities for the recent college grad or entry-level employee. It not only provides opportunities to grow as a leader, but also as a professional. In fact, many managers – years down the road – realize that the hidden skills they developed as an entry-level manager helped them grow professionally, more than they ever realized.
How so? Becoming a manager – a good manager that is, forces individuals to learn how to see things differently, act differently, and grow as a professional, differently than they may have if they weren’t in a leadership position early in their career.
Here are five of those hidden skill sets good entry-level managers develop that prove beneficial as they advance in their career, from Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Experience at Ceridian, a human capital management firm:
- Active Listening: Active listening is a beneficial skill that should be developed early on in ones’ career. It means taking a step back and really focusing in on what your employees have to say. By doing so, you will hear and learn about situations or issues at work or beyond that may be affecting your employees. This is information that you may otherwise miss if you didn’t take the time to actively listen.
- Ability to recognize non-verbal cues: Developing the ability to read non-verbal cues such as facial expressions or posture is an important skill when it comes to managing people and solving issues. Why? Because sometimes what people say is not entirely what they mean. Alongside listening, non-verbal cues provide insight into potential issues that may need further discussion and solving. Also, as a manager, you need to become more self-aware of any non-verbal cues that you may be expressing. This type of self-awareness will help you gain more control over your message delivery when giving feedback.
- The ability to adapt and change: Another valuable skill to hone in on is being able to change your leadership style to meet the needs of the situation. Even as a manager, you yourself will report to someone. Your style of leadership around those who you report to may need to be different from the style you display around your direct reports. In some cases, you need to be supportive of the individual employee as their leader and in others, you need to put the company’s mandate first. You’ll quickly learn, as a manager, how to work with different personalities, leaderships styles (including your own and your boss’ leadership styles), and the many quirks, challenges, and perspective each individual brings to the workplace.
- The art of recognition: The art of recognition is a skill that every leader should have when it comes to motivating employees. Remembering to say thank you goes a long way. If you take the time to recognize the work that employees are doing, it makes them feel valued. They will respect you further and you will be seen as that leader who is supportive – someone who people will want to work with, for a long time.
- You are a role model: Lastly – and this is not so much a skill, but an important value that both new and seasoned managers should uphold – remember, that you are a role model. That means regularly doing the right thing even when you think no one is watching or paying attention. Leadership is nothing, without integrity.
Being a manager is hard work – not everyone can do it. But you are in that role, and have a great opportunity to develop hidden skill sets as a young professional. So take advantage of both on-the-job, and formal training programs to become the best manager one can be.
“You will want to be sure that you have up-to-date skills in the areas of leadership, change management and the technical aspects of your role,” says Shirley Weis, former Chief Administrative Officer for Mayo Clinic, where her work involved overseeing 60,000 employees and $9 billion in revenues. Weis recently published the book Playing to Win in Business, an Amazon bestseller. “Formal training will help you feel more comfortable in your new position and give you the confidence to become an expert in your field.”
To continue to develop these skills now, and throughout one’s career, focus on cross-training opportunities and finding a mentor, says Nancy Saperstone, Senior HR Business Partner with Insight Performance, recognized as a national industry leader in human resources, providing proven and cost-effective HR solutions.
“Learn other sides of the business,” says Saperstone. “Don’t just stay in your silo’d responsibilities. The more you can understand the business, where your group fits in and how it impacts the rest of the company, the more you can contribute.”
As a new manager, you will want to get to know other managers in your organization. They are now your peers, so set up a time to meet each one individually and get to know about the challenges they are facing as well as ask for advice about how you can learn the new rules of the management game, says Weis.
Finally, find someone in the business that can be a mentor, says Saperstone. At the same time, be a mentor to someone more junior than you.
“Not only will you help them grow, but it’s always good to get a different perspective from someone else,” says Saperstone.
Becoming a manager provides all sorts of new career growth opportunities. Developing skill sets such as these not only will help young professionals now, but as they advance in their career. Take advantage of these opportunities now to reap the rewards later.
January 23, 2017 by Anna Peters
Contributing writer Ted Bauer
When Millennials become managers of others, what can we expect? How do they manage differently?
We’ve been managing in similar ways for generations now (maybe as far back as 1911), but in the last few years, Millennials have overtaken Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Right this second, being younger and all, Millennials aren’t running many companies yet. But they are managing: some research says 62% of global workers have had a Millennial boss at least once.
One important distinction here is that oftentimes, Millennials see themselves as leaders even if the job title doesn’t back that up. That was a key finding in a recent report from The Hartford. Here are a few other trends we see in Millennial managers:
The work-life balance issue: Millennials are known for demanding work-life balance, but when they become managers, they are actually struggling with work-life balance. Being young, they might feel they have more to prove in a role, and thus feel more pressure or spend more time at work. Other research has backed this up, calling Millennials one of the biggest workaholic generations. If you work for a Millennial who spends 12 hours+ per day at work and you feel the need to match or exceed that, this aspect of Millennial managers could be a con.
Less command and control. More collaboration: This is a big theme of Millennial managers, with the common logic being that they grew up in more group activities — and thus feel comfortable in that setting. This is a very good thing, as one study has shown command and control management styles are literally taking years off people’s lives. Continue Reading
January 17, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Some employees, ready or not, are promoted into management roles as a reward for succeeding in their previous job. Others, through education and professional training, get hired into management roles. No matter one’s road to a management job, there is no one-size-fits-all guide that determines when one is really ready to be a manager.
But whether one is a first-time manager, new manager, or seeking a career in management, there are certain skills, traits, and attributes that all good managers have. Mastering these traits can help all managers succeed in a leadership role. Here are seven traits managers must master to successfully prove they are ready to move into a management role:
1. Be willing to change: Many new managers get promoted because they are good at doing a job, says Heggen. Realize that what worked as an individual contributor won’t necessarily work now. “New managers need to understand their own tendencies and learn when they need to change their management style based on the person and the situation,” says Heggen. Adjust and adapt based on individual and team characteristics.
2. Understand mistakes will happen: Mistakes will happen and that’s okay, says Karen Young, the award-winning founder and President of HR Resolutions, a full-service human resources management company. “What’s important is how the mistake is handled,” says Young. “Are you prepared to accept ownership of your mistake? Are you prepared to go to your boss and say this happened, caused by you or your staff member, and this is how we are addressing it? It’s important to create a safe environment for your employees – one in which they feel comfortable coming to you with mistakes.”
3. Conflict identification and resolution: The ability to identify and head off conflict is an important trait new managers need to develop, says Liz Sophia, Senior VP of Marketing for Hodges-Mace, an employee benefits technology and communications company. “New managers tend to shy away from conflict and are more passive aggressive in dealing with employee issues,” says Sophia. A good manager will identify issues upfront and work quickly to resolve them. Conflict resolution is best done in person when available. If not, via phone. Don’t use email or text to solve issues/problems.
4. Hold employees accountable: A manager must hold employees accountable, says Young. That means team members must understand expectations, and follow through on those expectations. As a manager, you’ll have to correct mistakes along the way. When doing so, remember to praise publicly, and constructively criticize privately. “Fixing another’s mistakes is often easier and quicker if you do it, but you, as the manager, have accomplished nothing by doing that,” says Young. Learn how to manage without cramping the style of team members.
5. Learn how to manage up: Managing up is a manner in which a manager works with their boss to effectively get the training, support and resources needed for the position and department. For example, if you want to add a full-time employee into the department, do not go and say “we’re sooooo busy, everyone’s stressed, no one can get their job done.” That’s what the whiny manager does, says Young. Instead, back up requests with proof. Saying something like: “if we added an additional employee, we would save $X.XX in overtime, employee A would be able to begin to make outbound calls to generate more business; employee B would be available then to assist me with Project C.” Always make a business case.
6. Lead by example: You have to be willing to lead by example, says Sophia. If there is no policy around working from home, yet you tend to work from home yourself, it sets the wrong tone for your employees. If you overreact and treat other team members poorly, others may follow that lead. You also have to be mature enough to handle confidential information and not leak it or use it to strengthen your position. Managers set the tone and positive attitude/image of the team/department. Don’t portray negativity or hostility.
7. Strong communication skills: This seems like a no-brainer, but just because one is a manager doesn’t mean they are a skilled communicator. “Knowing how to communicate with different audiences is key,” says Sophia. Communication also includes, tone, body language and non-verbal communication cues. Understand how these affect people’s view of how you are communicating with them. A smile can ease tension, and make one feel more relaxed. A frown, or scowl, can intimidate. These non-verbal cues can change the message greatly.
Mastering these additional skills are also key to proving one is ready to become a manager, says Sophia:
- Be humble and accept input from others.
- Be willing to admit your mistakes, but learn from them and don’t repeat.
- Give your team and peers proper credit for their ideas/contributions. A simple hand-written thank you note goes a long way.
- Know that you don’t have to be perfect in all areas, but make sure that you have folks on your team who compliment your weaknesses.
- Acknowledge your areas for opportunity/growth and nurture them – invest in yourself professionally.
Becoming a good manager takes time, practice, and the ability to continually learn and adapt. Mastering these seven traits is a good start for the aspiring, or newly hired manager wondering if they are ready to manage.
January 12, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
Dear Matt: I really like my current job and company. But what I like most is the team I work with. We are all close and get along well. We are also good friends outside of work, and do a lot socially. However, I recently received a promotion, and am now the manager of these co-workers who are also my friends. I went from being part of the team, to leading the team. And now, I have to conduct weekly meetings with them, performance reviews, approve their days off, and face the fact I also suddenly know their salaries. It’s created an awkward situation for me in and outside of work. Do you have any tips for a new manager who is now also managing friends?
Matt: It’s exciting to be promoted, but when you’re now supervising former peers that are also friends, there’s an added complexity to the situation. Here’s how to handle both the professional and personal relationships when you suddenly find yourself managing your friends:
1. Schedule group and individual meetings
To address these changes and challenges, schedule a group meeting, and one-on-one individual meetings with your team, says Arlene Vernon, an HR consultant who provides management training for first-time managers, small business owners, and corporate clients.
Set guidelines and expectations from the start.
“Be prepared for these discussions – do not wing the meetings, as it will look like you’re not taking your new job as supervisor seriously,” says Vernon. “Use the group meeting to set the tone for future meetings and general ground rules for attendance and participation.”
Analyze what was and wasn’t working under the previous supervisor, and decide what to keep and what to tweak. “Don’t bash the previous supervisor, just introduce the enhancements as part of your style,” says Vernon.
Then schedule a one-on-one meeting with direct reports. This is the most important step in this new relationship.
“This helps establish your new supervisory relationship with each individual,” says Vernon. “Some of your former peers may be thrilled that you got this new position – others may not.”
So approach each discussion, taking into consideration each person’s feelings.
Sample one-on-one discussion items may include:
- How you plan to supervise – pointing out where you can be hands off and where you may need to be more hands on.
- How often you want to meet.
- The best ways to communicate with you (in person, email, text).
- The strengths you recognize in the individual and how you want to best utilize those strengths.
“The first discussion is not the time to point out the individuals’ weaknesses and how you want to see them improve,” says Vernon. “This meeting is to set the stage for a successful partnering with each person considering your new role.”
2. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
Chances are, your friends are truly happy for you and will be supportive and understanding that you have this new role. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes for fear of disappointing friends, says B. Max Dubroff, an HR Consultant at Einfluss, LLC, an HR advisory firm, in Albuquerque, NM. Dubroff has led teams from 2 to 570 people in a wide variety of industries throughout his career, leading those businesses to many best of workplace lists.
“The promotion is a sign of confidence that you can learn to manage and lead well,” says Dubroff. “All manager-leaders make mistakes and are imperfect; the ones who hide their errors or feign perfection are less effective as leaders because they miss out on the lessons of leadership. Manager-leaders who show integrity and embrace their errors will earn credibility, their network of friends will provide feedback and perspective, and their progress will be even greater. Capitalize on the open communication, because in the long run that is what is going to be more important.”
The promotion is also a sign that any awkwardness is your challenge to solve. Tap into the experience of your boss and fellow managers, but in the end, solve it yourself. Also, if you find yourself saying or doing things that you would not respect about your own boss, don’t say/do them; they undermine your integrity.
3. Transitioning from friend to boss
The elephant in the room, of course, is how you handle transitioning from friend to boss. Some people can handle this dual role effectively and others cannot. That goes both ways – from the boss and the employee perspective. So it’s important to discuss this reality with each employee up front and early on.
“Discuss the importance of maintaining a solid relationship with the person along with the recognition that you cannot show favoritism for your friends – that you will be treating everyone as equally as possible,” says Vernon.
Set ground rules for not discussing co-workers or work after hours, during work. Vernon also recommends discussing confidentiality.
“It’s likely you have confidential and/or personal information about your friends that shouldn’t be considered from a boss-employee perspective and the same applies to what private information they have about you,” says Vernon. “These can be difficult discussions, but it’s vital to set communication standards, personal/professional boundaries, and to recognize that while at work, you’re committed to taking your leadership responsibilities seriously.”
4. How to address the relationship in social situations
But even though becoming a supervisor of colleagues who were formally peers does present a somewhat awkward social scenario, it doesn’t mean friendships and social relationships have to end, says Elliot D. Lasson, Professor of the Practice and I/O Psychology Graduate Program Director at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County at Shady Grove. In fact, aside from the one-on-one conversations to be open about the changing relationship, Lasson suggests maintaining the same type of social relationship off of the job.
“If socialized together off the clock before the promotion, there is no reason why that should not continue,” says Lasson.
His reason is simple.
“Life and transitions happen,” he says. “The same way that you would include someone who has retired or left for another company beforehand, you should continue to maintain those same social circles. Part of professional maturity is to adapt to new roles and reporting relationships. If there is any anticipated anxiety about the modified role, that should probably be preemptively broached during the one-one-one meeting by the supervisor.”
There could be another added benefit: Your friends may work harder for you because they respect you outside of work. Now you just have to earn their respect as a manager. They also be more willing to bring up issues, concerns, or ideas – positive and negative – because they feel a closer connection to you.
5. Understand things will change
Keep in mind though, that despite attempts to salvage personal and professional relationships, managers must ultimately realize that some personal relationships fall apart when one person is now the supervisor. Whether or not that occurs is unique to each relationship.
Through it all, make sure that you’re consistent in how you interact, oversee, communicate with, and lead all your employees.
“As a manager-leader, you have a responsibility to manage any perceptions of favoritism to the best of your ability,” says Dubroff. “The tough part about this is others may attribute favoritism, even if you know facts that demonstrate otherwise. Since your facts are not going to change their perceptions, the only control you have is through your actions.”
“Everyone is watching to see how you begin your supervisory position and whether they can trust you in that role – to do your job well, be their voice for upper management and treat employees fairly and equitably,” says Vernon.
About Ask Matt on CollegeRecruiter.com
Ask Matt is a new monthly career advice column that offers tips and advice to recent college grads and entry-level job seekers. Have a question? Need job search or career advice? Email your question to Matt Krumrie for use in a future column.
January 10, 2017 by Matt Krumrie
For many first-time managers, it can be hard to gain professional respect from a more experienced management team and other senior leaders. It can be discouraging to attend leadership meetings, training, or be involved in the decision-making process and feel like you don’t have a voice. Managing from the middle well, however, can indeed build trust with top leaders.
Gaining trust as a manager can take time, but it doesn’t mean new managers need to wait, or feel like they have to gain approval from more experienced leaders to start building trust, and credibility within an organization. While the first goal should be to lead your new team and be the best manager you can be, it’s never too early to focus on how to become a manager who can influence others within the organization.
To gain that trust, respect, and a strong reputation, start by being accountable, says Greg Bustin, author of Accountability: The Key to Driving a High-Performance Culture. Bustin has dedicated his career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of companies on this crucial topic of accountability. During the last six years, he has interviewed and surveyed more than 5,000 executives around the world – from companies that include, but are not limited to, Marriott, Container Store, Ernst & Young, Sony, Herman Miller, Nucor, and Southwest Airlines – to understand how high-performing corporations successfully create and sustain a culture of purpose, trust, and fulfillment.
“Lack of accountability is the single greatest obstacle facing even the most experienced leaders,” says Bustin. “It saps morale, drains profits, and disenfranchises employees—and can shift your team into crisis mode on a daily basis.”
Bustin also created the highly popular best and worst in workplace accountability survey, and offers these five tips for new managers looking to make an organization-wide impact while managing from the middle:
January 09, 2017 by Anna Peters
Contributing writer Ted Bauer
Here’s a statistic that may blow your hair back a little. Per Gallup, 82 percent of managerial hires end up being the wrong one for the company in question. Why is it so hard to be a good manager, and why do so many companies perpetuate bad management? If this 82% stat is true, but there are still companies making tons of profits each year, does bad management truly affect the bottom line?
Why is it so hard to be a good manager?
Laszlo Bock is the VP of People (commonly thought of as Human Resources) at Google. Last year, he gave an interview to UPenn’s Wharton Business School — and within the interview, he hits on a core problem of good management. In his words:
The reason you get promoted is because you’ve done good work, you’ve hit your goals, you’ve made good decisions. You’re in this job, and of course, you immediately want to make good decisions, hit your goals, move things forward. You forget that when you’re an employee you want your manager helping and giving you advice and then kind of getting out of your way.
As a manager, your whole mindset shifts. [Y]ou start saying, I gotta make sure everyone delivers. I gotta micromanage. I gotta watch things. It’s not intuitive as a manager to give people more freedom and back off. That’s one of the things we’ve discovered — that you have to limit the power of managers. Then people perform way, way better.
One of the more popular business books of the past 20 years, Marshall Goldsmith’s What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, refers to this same concept: namely, management isn’t intuitive to most people. Instead of thinking about their new direct reports as people with lives and contexts of their own, many new managers think of employees as productivity targets or KPIs. Limiting the power of managers can actually make organizations more effective, counterintuitive as that might be on face.
The other issue with bad management is training. Per research, most people receive their first managerial role at age 30. Their first managerial training, though, isn’t until age 42. Not all managerial trainings are created equal — some might potentially regress a manager — but to go over a decade between “becoming a manager” and “getting trained to be a manager” is a significant issue.
What’s the tie to the bottom line?
Tony Robbins makes an excellent point about organizations scaling in this interview with Tim Ferriss. The argument is this: at some point, a company is 2-3 people (the founders). Eventually that becomes 5, then 10, then 20, etc. Every time you add a person and another layer, the communication channels become a little bit more frayed. Managing a three-person company vs. a 3,000-person company is hugely different. Companies are often good at scaling production for their products, but scaling the culture and managerial skill sets often gets left behind.
This has consequences. According to one set of research (admittedly from a small sample size), poor leadership costs companies $144,541.30 per day. That might be the annual salary of someone in a leadership role, and their poor leadership is costing the company that amount each day. Additional research from Northwestern has shown that poor leadership, often in the form of unclear priorities and wasted time, costs organizations $15.5 million per year. By contrast, organizations with very strong management levels often double their profits.
There are many metrics people use to attempt measuring “bad management,” and one of the most common is turnover. Bad managers obviously contribute to turnover; most research across the past 30 years has indicated people tend to leave their boss, not their actual job or company. Research from Dale Carnegie Institute at the end of 2016 showed that 41 percent of North American workers planned to try for a new job in 2017. The most-cited reason? Bad management at their current job. That’s nearly half the North American work force entering a new year with one foot out the door. Consistent turnover has many negative repercussions for a company’s bottom line, and losing four of every 10 employees in a calendar year is really bad.
How can we improve managers?
There are dozens of ideas here, but Bock’s advice above makes some sense: limit their power, or shift their focus from “managing productivity” to “managing the priorities of their people.” There’s research from MIT showing that 67 percent of senior leaders can’t name the priorities of their CEO. Once you get a few levels below that, priority assignment is a large game of telephone. As a result of these unclear goals in the middle management levels, research has shown that 21.4 million managers are contributing no economic value back to their company. That’s 17 percent of the U.S. full-time work force, and close to 42 percent of all people holding managerial titles. They could be made more effective with a shift in how they’re measured and compensated.
The other improvement could come from increased training around how to work with different styles of people, how to communicate better, how to align company strategy with daily execution, and the like. One of the most common traits of companies who regularly get on the ‘Best Places To Work’ list, such as Google or Mercedes Benz, is an almost religious commitment to training and developing people. It’s hard to expect managers to improve when they’re waiting 12 years between initial promotion and initial training.