Stanford’s Graduate School of Business’ five-year study of
nearly 24,000 workers and almost 2,000 bosses resulted in 6 million
measurements to determine the impact of management on productivity. Each worker
averaged four managers a year to determine the outcomes from a good manager
contrasted with a poor manager. The
findings revealed a 13% increase in productivity when replacing a poor manager
with a good manager.
Being a good manager is complex, requiring several skillsets
and perhaps most of all is self- awareness. According to a recent Gallup poll, 75% of respondents reported
experiencing abusive behavior at work sometime in their career; of people who
quit their jobs, at least 50% quit because of their bosses; and 70% of
variability in employee engagement is a result of their managers.
John Meriac and others studied 168 variables and reduced the skillset of management to seven talents which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(5).
The most important one is “the ability to form, redefine, repair and maintain
strong working relationships.” Without
the ability to relate exceeding well with others, the other six talents will result
in little benefit.
People who work for a manager who relates well perform
better with more discretionary effort which results in having better careers,
more resilience and even happiness. Managers are people and people are
emotional beings. That’s where self-awareness enters the picture. Three
emotional needs include status, inclusion and autonomy. Examples of status include being right, being
admired and gaining approval; inclusion includes having a sense of belonging,
feeling supported, being valued; and autonomy includes being independent and in
Should a manager have a strong need for inclusion, he may
focus so much on maintaining a positive relationship that he ignores poor
performance, is too open about his personal life and sees himself as a friend
rather than a manager. Should a manager
have a strong sense of autonomy, she may be overly critical, uninterested in
forming relationships and too focused on output. Being aware of your emotional triggers and
crystal clear about your team’s purpose is the path to good management.
The good manager must create a compelling team purpose with
goals and targets and build a shared identity to motivate and inspire the team.
That shared identity establishes how we
behave toward each other. Establishing and communicating a set of behavioral expectations
makes it easier to respond if expectations are violated. An example of a behavioral expectation to
ensure all team members are upfront and open during team meetings and decisions
are made at the team level is “after meeting meetings” are not permitted. Should an after meeting be held, team members
should feel comfortable mentioning the contract.
Good managers walk a tightrope every day; establishing and
maintaining professional boundaries to balance relationships and tasks. The
quality of the relationship with the manager determines how team members
receive and respond to the manager. Investing in management development early in a career will improve
self-awareness and encourage ongoing professional development. Good managers build healthy and respectful
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