If the economic downturn of 2009-10 taught us one thing, it was that the most productive companies have engaged workforces. By now if you are still in business you have cut cost every way you can think of even possibly having to layoff some very talented employees you hated to loose in order to restore your company to profitability.
Having done all that what you are left with is the workforce that has to carry you forward. The question is: Is my management team competent enough to inspire and engage my workforce.
Towers Perrin “Global Workforce Study” which surveyed 90,000 employees in eighteen countries showed that companies with engaged employees had a 19% growth in operating income. Companies with low levels of employee engagement saw operating income drop by 32%. In a million dollar company that is a swing of approximately $500,000.
Another disturbing piece of information recently reported is that 84% of our workforce is dissatisfied with their current employment situation and plan to leave as soon as the economy improves. That statistic should be a wake up call to take a close look at management competency.
A quick and easy way to accomplish your review is to look at four critical areas that directly affect a manager’s competency. If you see these four problem areas, you will know that your workforce is at risk of not being able to achieve your vision and goals and you are likely to suffer a loss of operating income.
Poor Communication Skills:
One of the most interesting indicators of a manager with poor communication skills is the manager’s illusion that communication has been accomplished. They don’t seem to be able to pick up clues that perhaps their message was not clearly understood. This single weakness leads to more employee drama then just about any other.
Since it is the manager’s responsibility, to ensure that the team is clear on the team’s vision and goals. Understanding each team member’s communication style is vital to good communication. Thus a manager must know how to best communicate with individual team members.
Being prepared to deliver messages clearly either verbally or in well written instructions are skills lacking in a manager with poor communication skills. Additionally weak managers are not likely to check back with employees, be prepared to listen and attempt to understand. If they do check back there likely to interrupt and display body language that suggests impatience.
Weak Leadership Skills
Managers with weak leadership skills are often unwilling or unable to speak the plain truth to employees when they need to hear the truth. Even in an engaged workforce people don’t want to hear bad news. However, in an engaged workforce the manager over time will have instilled trust with team members thus bad news while not desired will be accepted and productively acted upon.
Another problem with weak leaders is their lack of ability to clarify responsibilities. When asked tough questions they tend to be evasive. They are quick to blame others for mistakes. Weak leaders don’t bother to ensure that efforts are not duplicated because they are either ignorant or indifferent to team members workload.
Managers may try to mask their weaknesses by appearing very busy. The truth is that they are busy because they are afraid to delegate responsibility because they are not willing to give up control and fear being shown up.
Weak managers will tend to hover over team members and attempt to micromanage the team thus sapping it of its creativity and motivation. If they do delegate, is will be haphazard without regard to a team member’s capabilities interests or development needs.
Trouble Adapting to Change
When things become ambiguous weak managers panic and expect the worst which usually precipitates a crisis. They loose focus and tend to fixate on little things rather than seeking solutions. Weak managers don’t adjust well to changing events. Their behavior is always reactive. Weak leaders are likely to horde information that could be useful to the team and are afraid to involve others who may have more experience and can bring a fresh approach. This behavior has negative impact the ability of the team to think creatively.
Poor relationship building skills
An important aspect of team effectiveness is team cohesion. Managers with poor relationship building skills are often unaware of the impact of their words have on team members; consequently they are unable to build trust and are not respected.
Relationship building requires some work. There needs to be some sensitivity and tolerance for individual differences. As well as a sensitivity not to embarrass other people by publicly scolding but never offering any constructive suggestions.
Managers with poor relationship skills have little or no respect for the experiences and viewpoints of others. They have trouble controlling their emotions particularly when under stress and are likely to ignore conflict between coworkers. Also, lacking consistency and a sense of fairness weak managers rush to judgment before carefully listening to all points of view.
Finally weak relationship builders focus on people rather than their behavior. They don’t seem to understand that team members must feel good about their work in order for their moral to be high. Thus they fail to capitalize on each team member’s strengths and experiences.
Like winning coaches successful managers are both talented and skilled. If a manager lacks management talent, the manager will never be successful and will be unable to engage the team.
Organizations need to use effective validated tools to assess management talent and match that talent to specific business initiatives. Learn about your managers capabilities and style before problems arise. Then match them to teams where their talents can be seen as assets. Follow that up with a 360 review to check perception since good leadership is in the eye of the beholder and must be earned. Remember all organizations have people issues. How managers address these issues has a direct impact on your bottom line.