In my September column, I shared research results showing that 67 percent of a manager’s overall effectiveness can be explained by how they are rated on the eight attributes that define an employee-centric manager. This means the best pathway for managers seeking to improve their overall effectiveness is to become more employee-centric.
How can a manager know how well they are displaying these attributes? Typically, they gain this understanding through a comprehensive 180- degree or upward feedback system using direct reports as raters. In the absence of such a system, managers can use the criteria below to self-rate their effectiveness as an employee-centric manager.
The two attributes that most promote effective relationships are showing support and understanding to employees and treating them with dignity and respect. Managers can self-rate on the extent to which they:
- When needed, provide their employees with help and support to do their jobs.
- Take care to consistently ensure the well-being of their employees.
The three attributes that most contribute to employees’ performance are communicating clear performance expectations, providing recognition, and rewarding performance contributions. Managers can self-rate on the extent to which they:
- Give employees useful feedback on how well they are doing their jobs.
- Provide employees with recognition or praise for doing good work.
- Recognize performance contributions with financial rewards.
A skill develops through practice. Employees are emphatic about wanting managers to be skilled in problem solving and decision-making. Managers can self-rate on the extent to which they explain to their employees the rationale for the decisions they make.
The values employees most seek in their managers are that they are fair, just, honest and trustworthy. Managers can self-rate on the extent to which they:
- Enforce work rules consistently with all employees.
- Keep the commitments they make to employees.
Of course, these are only a sampling of the criteria managers can use to self-rate on employee-centricity. As noted in a previous column, managers tend to overestimate their competence, so they may need to moderate their self-assessment accordingly.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
But in the bigger picture, why does all this matter? First, it is difficult for managers to know where to focus their improvement efforts without knowledge of where they fall short. It is incumbent upon organizations and higher-level managers to ensure that lower-level managers have this awareness.
Second, managers may need motivation to make the necessary changes to their management approach. Knowledge regarding the advantages of being more employee-centric is key. For example, based on direct report ratings of more than 1,000 managers, I compared the performance of top-rated to middle-rated managers on four measures: employee experience, employee engagement, team cohesion, and team performance. For these criteria, middle-rated managers achieve approximately 70 to 75 percent of their potential. But top-rated managers consistently achieve 90 to 95 percent of their potential on these key metrics. Given those results, who would not want to become more employee-centric?
3 KEY STEPS
Change takes time. Awareness of strengths and development opportunities for an organization’s managerial workforce is the starting point. Giving managers the motivation to change comes next. Following through with on-target development experiences helps position the organization to achieve its goals and its vision.