Management 101

Over the years I have trained and coached dozens of managers and supervisors on how to more effectively motivate, develop and manage employees within their area of responsibility. Some find it easier than others. More managers than I would like dislike the prospect of having to deal with employees on a daily basis. The sad fact is that all companies have managers who have this mindset and it shows. It shows in lower employee engagement. It shows in poor employee performance. It shows in higher turnover. It shows when too many key managers and executives try every day to make sure they don’t get blamed for things that go wrong or try to make sure they get credit for things that go right. Prior to starting my business in 1992, I worked in corporate America. I went to work every day with the mindset that I wanted to do the best job I could and help the company be successful. If there was something that needed to get done, I never had the “that is not my job” mentality. That is not the way I was raised by my self-employed father. In many cases, my work ethic was seen by my peers and supervisors as some sort of hidden agenda. It was discouraging to work with so many professionals (loosely used term) who were always maneuvering for some sort of angle to move ahead.

I am still a firm believer that for a company to be successful on all fronts, all employees need to have the mantra that every action at work should be directed toward personal, company and peer success. It means getting out of the “what is in it for me” thought process. I don’t see this as an unrealistic organization utopia. I firmly believe a culture and work environment can be created with this philosophy.

Too many managers see their job as the boss, or more accurately, to boss people around to make sure the job gets done. When I conduct basic management training I state that the job of a manager is to provide all the tools and resources available to help the employees under their responsibility to be successful. I then ask a simple question….”what would your job look like if none of your daily tasks were geared toward making sure people were doing the job for which they were hired?” Some of the managers in these sessions confidently claim that is the environment they manage. That is great. The majority, unfortunately, comment that the answer to my question is unrealistic. These managers either don’t understand how to bring out the best in their employees or they have given up. The following short list is what I feel is the basic underpinning of all effective management.

  1. Clearly and concisely communicate the expectations of the job. Of course, this step should have taken place during the initial onboarding when an employee is hired or during orientation when an employee assumes a new role.
  2. Provide positive ongoing and consistent feedback on performance versus expectations. Additional training or redirection might be needed if performance does not match expectations.
  3. If performance is not meeting expectations after redirection or additional training, begin a progressive discipline process that is focused on the performance, not the person.
  4. If after reasonable time performance does not meet the expectations, then the employee has to move to a position that fits his or her skills or the employee has to be separated from the company. In ALL cases in step 4, it should NEVER be a surprise.

Notice that my stance on creating an active, engaged, motivated and highly performing team does include termination. It is not something I like to do, but is a necessary action when the hiring process was not effective and someone was hired that was not a fit. These basis steps have many activities that take place within the work setting, but, from my perspective, communicating expectations, providing constant feedback on performance versus expectations and taking appropriate action to improve performance are the necessary ingredients for an engaged and high performing workforce.

As always, I welcome feedback from others who have techniques that have generated positive results with employee performance.

Yours for success,

Richard Davis, SPHR
McClain Group, LLC


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