Posts Tagged ‘Leadership development’

Poor management

Poor line management is recognised by workplaces as having a negative impact on the performance of the business. A report by the CIPD and the UK Government published in 2012 revealed that more than two-fifths of managers regard their own line manager as ineffective. Meanwhile, a 2012 study from the Chartered Management Institute found that 43 per cent of managers are rated as ineffective or highly ineffective by staff.

The effects of poor management can harm the growth and competitiveness of a business. Research has shown that poor management can have a detrimental impact on employee engagement levels within a business, which in turn affects employee retention and performance, customer service and satisfaction, and business performance.

To deal with these issues, the UK Government has set up a new cross-party Parliamentary Commission to examine why so many line managers are “failing” their employer. The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Management (APPGM), in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), will examine how management can be transformed to drive growth across UK businesses to boost the economy.

The commission will attempt to highlight where employers have successfully used innovative approaches to management that have helped create growth and increase employee engagement. The most innovative and successful businesses will be invited to discuss their techniques with the Commission in Parliament. The commission plans to report on their findings in 2014.

The aim, according to Peter Ayliffe, CMI president and fellow co-chair of the Commission,’ is to identify the practical changes in line management behaviour that managers will need to make to lead and grow our businesses in the years ahead.’

For me, it is really positive to see the Government attempt to deal with the issue of poor management. Too many businesses are being held back by line managers not having the required skills to lead their people properly. Hopefully the work by the Commission will lead to the provision of training and support networks that UK businesses can tap into for their managers. This will especially benefit the smaller businesses that don’t have the expertise or resources to tackle the problem of underperforming managers.

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According to L&D Manager Jeff Turner at Facebook, the social network giant has introduced a novel approach to dealing with poorly performing managers in which they are given a ‘get out of jail free card’. Instead of putting them through the normal process of performance management, Facebook managers are given the option of dropping-out from direct line management altogether.

Their approach is an attempt to lessen the gap between managers who are doing a very good job and those who aren’t. This is because poor line management can harm the development of a company. Research has shown that poor management can have a detrimental impact on employee engagement levels within a business, which in turn affects employee retention and performance, customer service and satisfaction, and business performance.

In order to support this initiative, Facebook have developed a manager philosophy – “set context, create focus, drive impact and cultivate growth” – backed up by its model for manager effectiveness. This is instead of more traditional competency models.  Their approach also supports the make-up of its workforce, in which 70% are from Generation Y. Those from Generation Y are the most high-maintenance and the most high-performing in the workforce, so a novel approach to managing performance is required.

Since Facebook introduced the initiative, ten per cent of managers have given up line management every year in favour of a role with no direct reports. Facebook’s dual career track approach allows employees to reach a senior position without managing people. They are of the belief that management should not be about getting a pay rise or other benefits, it should be about wanting to manage people.

This approach is great for a large company like Facebook, who can invest the time and resource in developing such a strategy, but most businesses don’t have this opportunity. In reality, most businesses have to rely on effective recruitment practices when hiring people managers, as there is no ‘get out jail free card’. Instead they will rely on assessing the candidate’s suitability for the role through competency based questioning and psychometric testing. Once the candidate has been hired, businesses will have to ensure that sufficient coaching and training is in place to develop their managers further.

This flexible approach from Facebook in dealing with underperformance certainly makes it easier for them, as it reduces the need for performance management, but most other businesses will just have to ensure they select the right candidate first time round.

rocky2

In my last post I talked about how UK businesses believe there is a deficit in leadership and management skills, and that just 3% of organisations worldwide report their overall performance management system provides exceptional value. In order to deal with these issues I discussed how workers are looking for more meaning in their working lives, and that environments where creative, right-brain thinking is encouraged, with more self direction, can help achieve this. In short, I concluded that line managers need to become more effective at coaching their staff and one way in which they may be able to do this is through more effective goal setting. There are three different types of goals line managers can encourage their staff to set; and they are:

Outcome
An outcome goal is something that can be influenced but cannot be controlled. For instance, an employee may state that their goal for the performance year is to be better influencing people at a more senior level. This is quite a common goal that I see within workplaces and the one to be avoided. The reason being is because it offers no context or example of how the goal might be achieved. Without a specific scenario in which this is to be evaluated, the employee has no control over the situation.

Performance
A performance goal, on the face of it, sounds pretty reasonable and has more depth to it than an outcome goal. For example, an employee may want to achieve X-number of sales per month, or get at least one of their business ideas agreed to by a more senior member of the organisation in the year. So although there is a clearer target, compared to the Outcome goal, the employee is still unable to fully control the outcome of these. For instance, the employee may not be able to control the amount of sales they may make because the business has had a drop in referrals for them to convert. Or the idea that they pitch to the senior team might be good, but their other colleagues just always seem to be one step ahead.

Mastery
Instead, what the employee wants to be setting themselves are Mastery goals as they can fully control them and they aren’t ambiguous. If an employee is not able to achieve their Outcome or Performance goal, then they are likely to become disheartened easily at the first sign of failure. A Mastery goal however, is one that allows the employee to focus the mind on what it is they are trying to achieve and drills right down into the core of that goal.

For instance, rather than state you want to achieve X-number of sales per month, it would be better to state the following:

  • I want to ensure that I stay up-to-date with all current products that we sell
  • I will ensure that I continue to keep in contact with my branch network, on a monthly basis, about sales referrals.

Or, for the employee who wants to get better at influencing, why not set the following goals instead:

  • Improve my ability to analyse and report on data so I can present back to my senior managers and influence decisions.
  • Continue to follow market trends and important industry voices, via social media, to assist in providing me with credible information for making decisions.

The defining characteristic of the Mastery goal is that it is controllable and it digs down to the critical essentials of the task at hand. These are the types of goals that managers need to have their employees set if they want the performance management process to become worthwhile. Employees want to exert control over their working lives, and letting them set ambiguous goals is not going to help this.

Peter-Fonda-and-Dennis-Hopper-in-Easy-Rider

Leadership Development

Research undertaken by the CIPD recently found that 72% of organisations reported a deficit in leadership and management skills, even though two-thirds of organisations claim to provide training for their managers. However, as I pointed out in my previous article, this training may not be delivering much value.

The report also highlighted that only 36% of organisations say that individuals promoted into managerial roles receive additional training, with 51% saying ‘sometimes’, and 12% providing no training at all for new managers. Central to these failings is that efforts to foster positive manager behaviours are being undermined by the lack of a consistent message of what organisations expect of leaders.

Commenting on the research, Ksenia Zheltoukhova the CIPD’s research associate, stated that:

It’s time for business to identify and address the roots of bad management, recognising that a more consistent approach to training and supporting leaders at all levels of an organisation is needed to drive sustainable performance.

Performance Management

According to Mercer’s 2013 Global Performance Management Survey, conducted on 1,050 organisations in 53 countries, “just 3% of organisations worldwide report their overall performance management system provides exceptional value”. Top of the list, in terms of the key drivers behind this, is the skill of managers in how successfully they set employee goals, provide feedback, evaluate performance, and link performance to critical talent management decisions.

Only 58 per cent of managers were deemed ‘marginally skilled in providing career development coaching and direction’, by survey respondents, and, only 7 per cent of managers were felt to be ‘highly skilled at having candid dialogued with their direct reports about performance’.

In summary then, what the research by both the CIPD and Mercer is telling us is that businesses feel there is a deficit in leadership and management skills, and this is impacting on how successfully employees are performance managed and developed in the workplace. But a major part of the problem is the lack of clear strategy when it comes to developing leaders within the workplace. So what is it then that businesses can be do to try and deal with these issues?

The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

In order to try and improve this gap between leadership skills and performance management, businesses need to think differently about what they believe makes managers truly effective, and then develop a learning and development strategy around this. As pointed out in this article:

The best companies for leadership recognise that … high levels of emotional intelligence, commitment to continuous learning and analytical thinking are now critical at every level of the organisation.

At every level of the organisation, staff are looking for more meaning in the work lives and management need to be aware of this if performance management is to be effective. The traditional notions of “carrot and stick” to motivate staff will not deliver high performance, it is only likely to produce donkeys. Instead, managers need training and developing on what is required to manage the workforce in the modern economy.

The MAP to Success

Within this video, Daniel Pink talks about research which goes against the dominant thinking that if you want people to perform better you reward them. Within his presentation he talks about research that has consistently shown that in tasks that require even “rudimentary cognitive skill”, offering people larger rewards leads to poorer performance. This is because traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think, they narrow the mind and focus; meaning that people can be less creative. Instead, if you want to foster a creative workplace, people need to have the following in their working lives:

  • Mastery – the desire to become better at something that matters
  • Autonomy – the urge to direct our own lives
  • Purpose – the need to contribute to something greater than ourselves

In effect, what businesses need to do, is develop a clear performance management strategy that equips managers with the tools to deal with staff in the knowledge economy of the 21st century. This will allow them to foster environments were creative, right-brain thinking is encouraged and people are self directed. Employees now will not blindly follow what they are told by their managers, and will instead look for more purpose and meaning in their working lives, as such businesses need to recognise this if performance management is to improve.

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