Are You a Lousy Manager?
The basis of the discussion was about the congressional hearings in the U.S. that were investigating the extremely low levels of employee engagement at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The findings presented to DHS executives was that there was a need for improved work-life balance, better benefits, and eliminating pay freezes. All solutions that sound reasonable.
All nonsense, according to Mr. Clifton. He reports that their years of research into management in the Public Service indicate that the single most important indicator of employee engagement is, “Does your manager care about your development?”
And his opinion of the DHS employees? “They’re miserable because… they have lousy managers and supervisors.”
It’s our experience that he is pretty close to the bull’s-eye with this analysis.
Fixing the Managers
Certainly focusing on development is a critical piece of the puzzle to solving employee engagement issues. But there are also a great many other opportunities for managers and supervisors to improve themselves, and in turn develop a group of employees that meet and even exceed expectations…
- Do you develop and support your employees’ career plans and learning opportunities?
- Do you provide regular feedback, acknowledge success, and identify the need for improvement?
- Do you deal with ineffective performance?
- Do you coach, challenge, and provide your employees with opportunities for growth?
- Do you have “teams” and know how to build them effectively?
- Do you maintain control over the processes and projects you manage (without doing everything yourself)?
- Do you delegate well?
- Do you support and promote work-life balance?
- Is your staff happy?
- How do you engage your staff?
- Do you solicit input and listen to your staff?
- How do you inspire commitment?
- Do you give credit where (and when) credit is due?
- Do you encourage open constructive discussion of diverse perspectives?
- Do you understand your employees - do you know what motivates them?
- Do you recognize that a one-size fits all approach does not march your organization’s needs?
- Do you embrace intergenerational differences and tailor your messages to each generation?
- Do you translate the organization’s vision into concrete work activities?
- Do you encourage and incorporate diverse and creative initiatives and perspectives?
- Do you know how to manage change? – technological, organizational, etc.
Values and Ethics
- Do your employees trust you and do you trust them in return?
- Do you incorporate equitable practices into your HR planning?
- Do you build and promote a safe and healthy, respectful organization, free of harassment and discrimination?
- Do you act with transparency and fairness in all transactions, including staffing, contracting, and day-to-day activities?
So, you have gone through the list and identified some areas where you think you could use some improvement. But how do you know if your people agree with the things that you have in mind?
But only ask for feedback if you really want it. Never ask for feedback if you have already made a decision about next steps. And be open-minded about the recommendations you receive – we rarely learn much from the people who agree with us.
Act visibly on feedback and implement change.
Don’t shoot the messenger – reward constructive and respectful challenges.
Don’t play it safe – provide opportunities for risk taking and learning from failures. Leave the door open to idea sharing and innovation.
But mostly, you have to care.