• It’s hard to be a good manager, but bad management affects the bottom line

    January 09, 2017 by

     

    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.

    Want more advice related to talent acquisition, retention and other HR challenges? Stay connected to College Recruiter on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

  • How coding bootcamps benefit both recent college grads and employers

    November 22, 2016 by
    College students using laptop computers in class

    College students using laptop computers in class. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

    With technology careers in high demand, coding bootcamps have become a popular method for recent college grads to gain the additional skills needed to jump start, advance, and succeed in a career in technology. Coding bootcamps are short – but intense – training opportunities focusing on teaching students the latest, in-demand technical skills.

    Revature is a technology talent development company providing a turn-key talent acquisition solution for corporate and government partners and no-cost coding bootcamps for university graduates. Revature recently announced several strategic partnerships to provide free on-campus coding bootcamps with the City University of New York (CUNY)Arizona State University, Davidson College and the University of Missouri – with more partnership announcements planned into 2017. A college degree is required at the time of attendance for the on-site bootcamps. Students are typically graduates or even graduating seniors who are ready to deepen their skills and have a job when they graduate. The coding bootcamp is typically 12 weeks, full-time.

    “Revature is training the next generation of software engineers, a profession that continuously needs people current – and even ahead – of the technology curve,” says Joe Vacca, CMO at Revature.We started these university partnerships to create a pathway to high-paying coding careers for graduates across the country.”

    According to a recent report, 73% of coding bootcamp graduates surveyed report being employed in a full-time job requiring the skills learned at bootcamp, with an average salary increase of 64%. Roughly half of the jobs in the top income quartile — defined as those paying $57,000 or more per year — are in occupations that commonly require applicants to have at least some computer coding knowledge or skill. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, software development careers are projected to grow 17% through 2024.

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  • Oven-ready hires: The problem of matching available skills to our demands

    October 28, 2016 by

    Oven ready dishGuest writer Martin Edmondson, CEO and founder of Gradcore

    It feels like there is an ever-growing consensus among employers that university graduates should emerge fully formed, perfectly skilled and immediately work ready. The phrase ‘oven ready’ graduates appears far too often for my liking. It oversimplifies what is ultimately a very complicated issue: How do you match the supply of skills and people with the demands of the economy, when both are moving targets? In other words, how much should employers compromise when searching for the ideal candidate? How much should they training should they assume?

     

    This is such a significant issue in the UK that the government has created a ‘Teaching Excellence Framework’ for universities. One of its goals is to tackle “skill mismatches” in the economy. (Go figure that the same government is now limiting their own access to skilled talent via immigration clampdowns.)

    Every employer presents unique circumstances. So it’s critical for employers to examine their fundamental approach to hiring with a few questions such as:

    • What characterizes the hires you make that are successful, and those that are not?
    • What is the most critical factor for fit with your organization – skills, values, attitude etc?
    • How recently did you evaluate what is really important in the people you hire?
    • If all the evidence says that those people are not available for that price in this place, which one of those variables are you prepared to change?

    Here is the challenge: So many employers are seeking candidates with the skills that are in shortage areas. This is typically around digital and software roles where there is a major disconnect between employer requirements and the quality and quantity of graduates available. Employers (and policy makers who are trying to solve these problems) should try one of the following:

    1. Grow your own

    This is the long game, but often one of the most successful approaches if you have the time. Recruit graduates who have the core attributes or values that suit your organisation, but need to develop their skills further. Then put in place the structured training that will develop them. This could be in house training, or delivered under emerging models such as degree-apprenticeships.

    2. Think differently

    Stop looking at the really obvious candidates. This could be described as the Blue Ocean approach, getting away from where everyone else is fishing. Recently I saw a very interesting post from a company called Talla about mapping resumes using neural networks. This visual approach helps you to appreciate that people who superficially have seemingly different backgrounds are actually remarkably similar. Each of the dots below is a resume. This shows how different titles share characteristics:Point graph of title descriptions on resumes

     

     

     

     

     

    3. Up the budget

    Sometimes you simply need to either increase the budget in order to reach a wider audience, or increase salary to attract the necessary skills. While it’s never ideal, there are clearly certain economic realities that are hard to escape.

    Underlying all of this is a bigger societal question, which will be answered differently in different countries:

    Whose job is it to make a person employable?

    Is it the role of the education system and teachers? Employers? Parents or the state? Or are we all solely responsible for our own development? All play a part, but the prevailing national answer to this question goes a long way to deciding the expectations employers have of graduates and vice versa.

     

    Look forward to discussing this and lots of other topics around college recruiting at the College Recruiter Bootcamp in Washington DC on December 8.

    martin-edmondsonMartin is the CEO and founder of Gradcore, a social enterprise focused on graduate employment and employability. Martin has more than 15 years of experience in graduate recruitment and Higher Education. He founded Gradcore, and over the last decade has led a wide range of graduate recruitment and employability projects. These include running global graduate schemes for a range of large employers, delivering employability performance improvement in universities, and chairing the UK and European Graduate Employment Conferences. Martin was a member of the steering group for the ‘graduate recruitment in SMEs’ report for the UK government and has written for a wide range of newspapers and websites. Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.

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