“People leave managers, not companies”, is a famous quote by Marcus Buckingham that almost all professionals across the globe have heard or experienced. Even a study by Gallup corroborates the idea that 50% of employees cite a bad manager as the top reason to quit their jobs. This clearly indicates that managers play a pivotal role in ensuring a positive employee experience resulting in better performance and productivity. Invariably, promoting manager effectiveness at work has become a top priority for all organizations. Through the course of this blog, we will answer all questions you might have about manager effectiveness, the best practices, common pitfalls and much more.
Table of Contents
- What is manager effectiveness?
- The role of manager effectiveness in organizational success
- Traits of a highly effective manager
- How to measure/evaluate manager effectiveness: Key manager effectiveness metrics
- What are the top manager effectiveness survey questions?
- Improving manager effectiveness at work
- How to be an effective manager or leader?
- Promoting manager effectiveness as a first-time manager
- Where manager effectiveness fails: Micromanagement
- Getting started with manager effectiveness
What is manager effectiveness?
The meaning of manager effectiveness is dynamic and can have different connotations for different professionals. Put simply, manager effectiveness entails the ability of a manager to successfully achieve organizational goals while balancing employee expectations. The concept goes beyond manager efficiency, where only the inputs and outputs are concerned. Rather its importance lies in ensuring that in addition to the work being done efficiently, there is progress for both the individual and the organization at large. Effective managers are able to better lead their teams, add efficiency to the work and drive organizations to create impact.
The role of manager effectiveness in organizational success
Before jumping on to the ways to gauge and subsequently improve manager effectiveness, let’s quickly reflect on the top reasons why manager effectiveness is essential for organizational success.
- Greater employee engagement: Effective managers have the potential to motivate, engage and inspire their team members in a way that augments their performance. According to a study by Gallup, managers account for at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units. Therefore, effective managers facilitate employee experience leading to attracting and retaining the best talent.
- Balance leadership and employees: Managers act as a channel between the senior leadership and the employees at any organization. Effective managers play an important role in ensuring that all organizational goals are met and at the same time while promoting employee wellbeing and growth. They are better able to align organizational and employee goals to create a win-win situation.
- Resilience and transformation: In the VUCA world, manager effectiveness is important to adapt to the fast-changing world. Effective managers are resilient and agile in their decision making to ensure business continuity, even in the face of uncertainty.
Traits of a highly effective manager
While the importance of manager effectiveness has been established, what an effective manager should be like is still a topic of debate. Almost everyone has their own version of manager effectiveness, but there are certain traits that all effective managers share. Invariably, these should be considered as the starting point for every manager seeking to lead and influence a team to drive results. An effective manager is:
- A Team Player: Right from a transparent delegation of tasks to facilitating seamless coordination and collaboration between everyone, manager effectiveness involves ensuring the team works like a well-oiled machine. However, according to a survey by The Predictive Index, 30% of employees believe their manager lacks team-building skills.
- A Mentor and Coach: Effective managers help teams achieve their goals and reach the pinnacle with adequate mentoring and coaching to facilitate subtle behavioral nudges for growth and development.
- A Good Communicator: Highly effective managers have clarity of thought and expectations and are able to put them into words clearly. Communication is vital both within one’s team and when interacting externally.
- An Active Listener: Effective managers are open to listening to their team members on feedback as well as opinions on the overall culture. It could be through 1-o-1 conversations, group discussions, performance reviews, or personal interactions.
- An Appreciator: This involves acknowledging the hard work they put in, even if the results are not exactly what you expected. Additionally, recognizing, appreciating, and rewarding good work is a key trait of an effective manager.
- A Confident Decision Maker: A manager is essentially the one who shows everyone else the direction to sail in. At times, the decisions are hard and might not be ideal for some. However, effective managers are confident of their capabilities, experience, and, thus, their decisions.
- A Reliable Resource: Manager effectiveness requires a high-reliability quotient. This involves not only supporting and championing your team whenever they need it but also setting a good example for the organization and for others to follow.
How to measure manager effectiveness: Key manager effectiveness metrics
Organizations striving for success across their managerial talent must have a standard manager effectiveness index in place. This involves a comprehensive approach on how to measure manager effectiveness. Thus, some key manager effectiveness metrics must be explored. Here is a list of top 5 manager effectiveness metrics that organizations can rely upon while building their manager effectiveness index:
- Engagement scores with surveys and pulses
Organizations must gauge their employee engagement scores as a part of the manager effectiveness metrics. Measuring employee engagement via pulse surveys to gauge manager effectiveness is important because lower levels of engagement are the root cause of absenteeism and turnover. Even if employees stick around, unless they are completely engaged, expecting them to deliver 100% productivity might be an over expectation.
- Turnover and retention rates
The turnover vs retention rate is an important parameter for the manager effectiveness index. The idea is to gauge the reason for leaving for every outgoing employee. A sub-metric that deserves measurement for manager effectiveness is the rate of high performer turnover. This is the turnover rate of high performers vs the turnover rate of others as a whole. Retaining high performers signals manager effectiveness while higher turnover points to the opposite. Effective managers create an empowering work environment in which employees look forward to growing in, resulting in high retention rates.
- Rate of promotions and succession planning
Manager effectiveness is linked to promotions and succession planning in two ways. Firstly, mapping the rate of promotions for a particular manager with the average rate of promotions. Effective managers are likely to have greater promotion rates in an organization as great leaders nurture more leaders. Secondly, effective managers also invest their time and effort in succession planning. Thus, measuring if a manager is able to create an environment that promotes growth and nurtures a pipeline of leaders for the future is important.
- Employee absenteeism
How to measure manager effectiveness requires measuring employee absenteeism, i.e. the number of days employees take off from a particular team, and a comparison with the general organizational trend. In addition to quantification of absent days, the reasons for absenteeism must be explored. Effective managers breed a culture of positive mental health, wellbeing and prosperity, and promote lower absenteeism. Measuring employee absenteeism signals a manager’s ability to ensure that workload is optimized and employees feel secure and happy at the workplace.
- Recruitment score
The manager effectiveness index involves understanding how well a manager is able to recruit new employees. Recruitment score is generally calculated on the basis of surveys and opinions of candidates who participate in the interview for a particular role. It illustrates a manager’s ability to bring in the best talent and result in organizational success.
What are the top manager effectiveness survey questions?
As mentioned above, employees and team members are the best resources to measure manager effectiveness and gauge an organization’s position on the manager effectiveness index. While the above section states different manager effectiveness metrics, below is a list of manager effectiveness survey questions, to be asked to employees, that can be leveraged for a comprehensive picture:
- Do you have clarity of goals and expectations from your manager?
- Do you regularly receive constructive feedback from your manager?
- Has your manager put in effort to facilitate your personal and professional development?
- Does your manager make decisions collaboratively?
- Does your manager regularly communicate with you on different topics?
- When was the last time you received recognition for your work?
- Does your manager encourage you to share your ideas and opinions?
- Does your manager treat everyone equally?
- Do you feel valued as a part of the team?
- Does your manager actively listen to your concerns and perspectives?
- How comfortable are you in providing feedback to your manager?
- How would you rate your manager (1-5) on their overall effectiveness?
- Does your manager care about your wellbeing?
- Does your manager discuss your long-term professional plan in the organization?
- Do you feel overworked or underworked with the delegation of work?
- How much have you been able to grow and develop under your manager?
- What are the top 3 attributes you admire about your manager?
- What are the 3 things you would like to change about your manager?
Improving manager effectiveness at work: How to be an effective manager or leader
The following section will focus on decoding the top practices that leaders and organizations can adopt for improving manager effectiveness at work. Here is a one stop answer to the question how to be an effective manager or leader. The list reflects the best practices that have been tried and tested across industries and can serve as competent benchmarks:
- Understand different personalities: Leaders need to adopt a personalized approach to management, especially in the new normal, post-Covid. Manager effectiveness is about leaving behind the cookie-cutter approach of having a similar way of dealing with all employees and delegating work. Rather, the focus needs to be on different personalities and play on the strengths each employee brings to the table. A personality-based approach to team management can help in offering the right nudges to employees with tools like the SuperBeings platform.
- Offer management training: According to research by MDA Training, 58% of managers claim to have not received any leadership training. Conventionally, most managers watch and learn from their bosses, especially about team management practices. However, in the new normal, it is important for organizations to invest in manager training. The focus should be on developing important aspects of manager effectiveness like emotional quotient, empathy, etc. to offer the right mentoring and coaching to boost employee morale and engagement.
- Be open to feedback: Improving manager effectiveness requires managers to widen their horizon by accepting and appreciating employee feedback. Managers must actively seek feedback on what is working and what is not to provide a pleasant employee experience. For instance, managers need to continuously gauge employee pulse on whether one-on-ones work better or team meetings. Alternatively, what is the correct ratio for the two. Managers need to accept that sometimes they might not know the best and honest employee feedback can be a great corrective measure for improving manager effectiveness.
- Celebrate milestones: Manager effectiveness requires leaders to celebrate small wins and milestones achieved by the team. Constant recognition and appreciation alongside feedback is a great motivator for team members to put their best foot forward, without pressure and entails better performance. According to global studies, 79% of employees who quit their jobs cite a lack of appreciation as a key reason for leaving.
- Invest in coaching and other wellness practices: Finally, with mental health and wellness becoming a priority, manager effectiveness involves investing in coaching and other practices. Managers need to go the extra mile to showcase their care and empathy towards the employees. Coaching platforms and wellness tools can be effective solutions. They can help employees navigate the new challenges that come along the way with customized practices. This would be a boon for leaders when it comes to team management practices.
Promoting manager effectiveness as a first-time manager
The above practices are beneficial for managers who have been in their role for some time and are looking to augment their effectiveness and performance. However, there also exists another set of managers who have recently transitioned into leadership roles. However, for numerous managers, effectiveness can be a big challenge. According to a study, 44% of first-time managers claimed they were unprepared for the new role. At the same time, 87% reported that they did not receive any training for a new managerial position. Here are some tips for new managers to accelerate their professional journey and make an impact:
- Change your mindset towards team growth
For most professionals, till they reach a specific position on the leadership ladder, they only have to focus on outperforming themselves. However, as a manager, one must change their outlook towards their team and its collective growth. First-time managers must adopt a growth mindset to help their team members develop as professionals to promote manager effectiveness. This requires focusing on the strengths that everyone brings to the table and making an effort to leverage the same. For instance, build a team with complementary rather than similar skills.
- Build a rapport to take everyone along
An effective manager builds healthy relationships with everyone in their team, as well as those above and below them. Here, it is vital that first-time managers pay heed to the opinions and perspectives of everyone around. On one hand, this will help create an image that they take everybody along. On the other hand, building a rapport will facilitate collaboration which is crucial to managerial success. This can be achieved by making an effort to get to know team members and others beyond work. Try to learn about their personal life (with their consent), learn about what they wish to do beyond work, etc.
- Motivate, mentor, guide, and support development
Motivation and mentoring can take many forms. The objective is to ensure that each team member is able to reach the pinnacle of success and stretch beyond their comfort zone. As a first-time manager, one must create appropriate conditions to promote the personal and professional development of all team members. Setting up formal mentoring and coaching programs can be the first step. Learn the aspirations of team members and make a conscious effort to give them assignments that can aid in their professional success.
- Nurture your emotional intelligence & communication skills
Emotional intelligence is likely to help new managers look at things from the perspective of the team members and others and ensure that they become empathetic leaders. At the same time, it is crucial to develop communication skills especially focused on active listening. Investing in tools that offer regular behavioral nudges for development is important as emotional intelligence and communication skills cannot be developed overnight and require a constant monitoring system.
- Empower the team
Effective managers provide their teams with the right resources and tools and guide them to get things done, rather than getting into the details of every task. This creates a team that is efficient and responsible enough to take care of the operational work. This allows the manager to focus on high-order tasks and decision-making to attain scalability and success, which is critical to promoting manager effectiveness at work. Understanding team needs and providing the right resources is important. For instance, if the team is working remotely, investing in collaboration and communication tools like Slack, video conferencing tools like zoom, etc. makes sense.
Where manager effectiveness fails: Micromanagement
Till now we have focused on different ways to gauge, promote and improve manager effectiveness as well as explored practices for how to become an effective manager or leader. It is now time to focus on one of the most common pitfalls that come in the way of manager effectiveness. Often, in the process of effectively managing a team and guiding them towards success, professionals tend to lose balance and incline towards micromanagement. Put simply, micromanagement is a practice where a manager or a person in a senior position closely observes and monitors the subordinates with excessive control.
According to a study, 69% of professionals said they considered changing jobs because of micromanagement and another 36% actually changed jobs. While micromanagement negatively impacts retention of quality talent, it affects other parameters of performance too. 71% said being micromanaged interfered with their job performance while 85% said their morale was negatively impacted. Therefore, micromanagement must be avoided at all costs if a leader seeks to rank high on the manager effectiveness index. Here are a few tips to ensure the same:
- Perfectionism is a myth
Micromanagement often stems from an obsession with perfectionism and the need to ensure that their team delivers the best execution possible. While it is good to aspire for perfectionism, it is important to acknowledge that sometimes good is good enough. Interfering in everything in the name of perfectionism should be kept under check. This doesn’t mean compromising and delivering below-average quality work. The idea is to not go overboard in an attempt to achieve utopian perfectionism.
- Delegate to the right people
One of the major reasons managers and leaders find themselves micromanaging is because they do not delegate and distribute responsibility. The best approach is to find the right people who have a fair balance of attitude and aptitude. The more responsibility you delegate, the less you will find yourself micromanaging. Put simply, if you are responsible for everything that goes on in your team, you will closely monitor them and try to impinge your way of working on them. However, when you delegate, you loosen your grip and make room for others to take charge, which is essentially required to avoid micromanaging and promote manager effectiveness.
- Be inclusive and offer feedback
Managers should be inclusive while making decisions that impact the whole team. When different opinions are taken into consideration, the delegation also becomes easier. At the same time, feedback is critical to letting go of micromanagement. Taking control because you feel your team isn’t competent enough is not wise. Rather, offer constructive feedback on what went wrong and illustrate areas of improvement. This will encourage the team to step up and work on their weaknesses. Invariably, this will result in better performances, allowing leaders to take a step back and avoid micromanaging.
- Build trust and step back slowly
Managers cannot expect to step away from micromanagement within a single day. The best approach is to let go of one thing at a time and build trust gradually. When one gives away the responsibility of one task to the team and they carry it out well, trust and faith build in their capabilities. This nurtures the confidence to take another step back. The idea is to not boil the ocean all at once, rather, step back from micromanagement one task at a time.
- Set the expectations right and early on
Managers often claim that they micromanage because their team members shirk away from responsibilities. However, the challenge here might be a two-way street. It is very important for manager effectiveness to set clear expectations right from the very beginning. This means that all team members must be made aware of the responsibility they are supposed to take and what is expected out of them over the course of their tenure along with a roadmap to maximize their performance which doesn’t require micromanagement.
- Prioritize and value one’s worth
By micromanaging, managers reduce their value and impact on the organization. At times, some operational or administrative task is likely to take over other important and high-value work. Therefore, managers must put time into tasks and work that only they can accomplish. The focus should be on facilitating others to do the work by providing the right resources, guidance, and mentoring, rather than getting their hands dirty all the time. Having a priority list of all the work that needs to be done and focus should only be on those that cannot be done by anyone else. For the rest, effective managers only oversee execution.
- Manage culture not work
It is vital that managers and leaders utilize their time and effort in creating and managing a positive work culture rather than managing every task at hand. Nurturing a culture of responsibility, transparency, and accountability is imperative for managers looking to take a step back for indulging in every task that comes to their team. Managers and leaders ought to focus on promoting intrapreneurship within the team where all members stick out their hands to take ownership and come up with the best solutions to optimize productivity and performance. With such a culture in place, manager effectiveness is bound to improve by leaps and bounds.
Getting started with manager effectiveness
Improving manager effectiveness in an organization is not a task for a single day. It requires constant efforts on the part of the senior leadership, employees as well as the manager themselves. If one looks closely, scoring high on the manager effectiveness index requires promoting subtle behavioral changes in the managers based on real-time insights and data. Here, collaborating with platforms like SuperBeings can be effective. It empowers organizational managers with the right tools, insights, and recommendations to become an effective leader and manager.