Chief of Research, Workforce Productivity, Organizational Performance
This op-ed was originally published in Halifax's The Chronicle Herald on February 26, 2019.
Ultimately an organization’s success depends on the average employee’s beliefs and success in their assigned role.
Why do organizations lose top talent or fail to have them perform to their full potential?
When employees have a low degree of confidence in management effectiveness it can influence their perception and confidence in the organization’s success and sustainability.
A low level of management effectiveness can be defined by the degree employees believe management is capable of facilitating the employee-manager relationship and effectively leading and managing staff.
The lens through which many employees perceive and evaluate their organization is their experience with their direct manager. Therefore, management effectiveness is critical for obtaining employees’ commitment and performance.
Senior leadership can make decrees for what they expect, but how well these are carried out depends on each employee’s experience, such as how well they interact, work with and trust their direct manager.
When employees feel confused and stressed by what they think are ineffective decisions, don’t understand why decisions are being made, or don’t trust management or their direct manager’s competencies, this can erode their confidence and desire to be a part of the organization.
Organizations can have pockets where employees have a high degree of confidence in management effectiveness or where employees have a much lower degree of confidence.
One way organizations traditionally evaluate management effectiveness is using an engagement survey to discern what employees are experiencing.
Getting a diagnosis, however, is much different than having an effective treatment. Organizations that want a high degree of management effectiveness need to be clear about what their management effectiveness success formula is, how to successfully implement it, and evaluate its effectiveness.
Unfortunately, many organizations measure engagement without having its management effectiveness strategy in place. Or they believe all they need is some form of manager and leadership training to achieve their desired result.
Several factors influence how an organization influences management effectiveness.
- Senior leadership commitment — Management effectiveness begins with senior leadership commitment and focus on the importance of the employee-manager relationship. Senior leaders who buy into the concept that when leaders build trusting relationships with their employees they are in a better position to influence employees’ motivation to perform to their full potential. As well, to be effective, leaders require defined knowledge and skills. The degree of senior leaders’ commitment defines the degree of support (budgets, for example) they will give to facilitate management effectiveness.
- Setting management effectiveness standards — Obtaining consistent management effectiveness requires defining the standards to which all leaders are expected to perform. These include a clear organization mission and values, as well as the specific leadership behaviours that define the principles all leaders are expected to demonstrate daily. All leaders should be trained in defined human resources and operational policies and processes that guide their decision making.
- Designing management effectiveness strategy — This begins by defining the desired measurable outcomes management effectiveness is expected to have on organization results, such as financial, attendance, retention, health, engagement and productivity targets. Once outcomes are defined, the next decision is to determine the commitment to the overall training and development budget that will focus on developing leaders’ management effectiveness knowledge and skills.
- Implement management effectiveness programs — Influencing leaders’ management effectiveness begins with clearly-defined role descriptions that outline the mandatory minimal skills required for success, as well as defined core competencies (trainable skills) for all managers. A clear framework for how the organization will support management effectiveness development also is required, such as what percentage of programming content will be created internally or what external programs will be used. Delivery mechanisms may include classroom settings, online training, mentoring programs and using internal and external coaches.
- Evaluate management effectiveness impact — Not all leaders need the same programming. Personalized management effectiveness programming will determine what each needs. Leaders’ management effectiveness can be measured by performance results, 360 degree feedback evaluations, engagement scores and employee data (sick time, short- and long-term disability claims, workers’ compensation claims).
The aggregate of leaders’ effectiveness influences the organization’s overall result. It’s helpful to have a model to measure the return on investment that can show senior leadership that investing in management effectiveness is providing a positive return.