Welcome to management. You've done well and got the new job. But they forgot to teach you a few things in school. If you are in charge of staff, there are five things that you are responsible for but that don’t directly appear on your Job Description.
These are the things that Effective Managers do.
Some people are naturally demanding. They get promoted as managers because they get results. The problem is they burn through employees which is expensive, unsustainable and makes work the four letter word that we hate. Other people are naturally supportive. They are better liked by their staff but they aren’t good at producing results and lose the respect of their employees.
This is the management paradox - why jerks get ahead, nice guys finish last and employees leave jobs. The mark of a truly great boss is the ability to produce results and retain employees. The challenge is that demanding and supportive are on diametrically opposite sides of personality scales, this makes it an uncommon skill. The secret ninja manager skill is to be both demanding and supportive at the same time and www.boss.camp will show you how with ethical management skills. Managing without knowing what they are and paying them specific attention is managing blind.
As the saying goes - with great power comes great responsibility. These five things make perfect sense as part of your responsibilities as a manager. None of them are any big surprise. But they are usually implicit because you won't find them on many job descriptions.
What must every manager do (Including you)?
Managers are directly responsible for:
- Selection: Hiring the right staff;
- Fixing under-performance: Following a Fix or Fire process;
- Results: Getting the best performance from employees;
- Retention: Keeping staff because Staff turnover is extremely expensive;
- Balance: Balancing staff management with other responsibilities in a time efficient manner.
Focusing on these five things is absolutely crucial:
1. Selection: Hiring the right staff
Next time you have a staff problem remember that every staff member was hired at some point. Hiring the right person for the job is the single most important thing that you can do as a manager. It doesn’t matter how good you are at managing and developing staff, the performance potential is limited by the raw material that you start with. The problem is that hiring is relatively infrequent which means that we don’t get much practice. And a recruitment process gives us comparatively little information for a big decision. Imagine if you got married to someone based on just a few interviews. Yet we do something similar when we make a new hire. The combination of importance, difficulty and lack of practice creates a high-risk scenario. A single bad hire can have extremely negative consequences. At the same time, getting good staff can create a world of difference.
2. Fixing under-performance: Follow a Fix or Fire process
There is a line below which an employee’s level of poor performance cannot be justified. This could be one specific item. Or a general level of under-performance. This might be because of inheriting a bad performer, making a bad hire or some other change in circumstances. For whatever reason it is your responsibility as the manager to fix this. Underperformance is not uncommon. Many researchers estimate that as much as 20% of the workforce is destroying instead of creating value. All too often managers avoid addressing underperformance.
If one of your employees doesn’t deliver, senior management does not see this as the employee not performing. Senior management sees this as your failure to manage the situation. When you have an under-performer on your team it makes senior management think you are not skilled at selecting, managing or dealing with under-performing staff. Not fixing under-performance sends a message to the rest of your staff that you are willing to accept lower performance. Plus it makes the staff feel resentful because they feel like they are carrying more of the load. Both of these are highly de-motivational. Too often unacceptable levels of performance are routinely accepted because performance problems are seen as too difficult or unpleasant to fix. Payroll is expensive and competition is tough, the burden of unproductive staff is a drag on an organization like no other.
It is you as the direct line manager who is responsible to either “fix-or-fire” under-performing employees because there is no one better placed to do this. The responsibility to do the right thing even when the right thing is unpleasant is a responsibility that comes with the job. Please note that while I believe that firing (or relocating or managing out) an under-performing staff member is sometimes the right thing to do. I believe this is the avenue of last resort. It is the managers responsibility to first do everything they can do to fix the underperformance. (note: I write elsewhere about doing unpleasant things in a pleasant manner) Fixing underperformance is related to but different from improving results, which I speak about next.
3. Results: Getting the best performance from employees
It’s a simple fact of life: Workers are not that different to professional athletes. They will accomplish much more when a good coach encourages and supports than when they are left to their own devices. It’s not about micro-managing, it’s about the right sort of encouragement and support. Results matter. As a manager aren’t just responsible for your own results but the sum of the contributions of all of your employees. This includes delivering results today and increasing performance over time. Competition will make you irrelevant if you don’t improve future performance. And if you don’t deliver results today you (or your company) may not be around for tomorrow.
This isn’t about fixing underperformance, this is about improving the performance of all of your employees. If you think this is does not apply to self motivated high performers then you should think about how many top performers (CEO’s, athletes, entertainers etc.) still use mentors, coaches and personal trainers to improve their performance. Managers that are good at supporting and encouraging their employees will vastly outperform managers who do not. You should ask yourself a simple question – does your management make your team perform appreciably better? Increasing the performance of your team isn’t just good for the company. Increasing the performance of your employee’s increases their rewards, promotability and job satisfaction.
4. Retention: Keeping staff- Staff turnover is extremely expensive
An average staff turnover rate of around 20% costs you about 10% of your annual payroll in direct costs (recruitment costs, training, lost productivity etc.) alone. Most of these costs are hidden because there isn’t an accounting item for “Cost of Lost Staff". This ignores the loss of valuable organisational knowledge and customer relationships. Getting results in a manner that loses you staff is unsustainable. Many managers can deliver short-term results, but the mark of a truly good manager is the ability to deliver results and keep (the right) staff. Retention isn’t about keeping staff on your team; it’s keeping staff in the company because a good manager develops staff to new levels.
The good news here is that if you can effectively engage your staff you will get the dual benefit of increasing performance and retention. The conventional wisdom is that you need to keep your staff happy with good working conditions and high pay. While these do play a part, a good manager knows how to have high staff satisfaction without resorting to “buying” it. (I write about this elsewhere). Whilst the staff turnover rate is not a very helpful indicator of management effectiveness. You can be sure that if your staff turnover is high you almost certainly do have some sort of management issue.
5. Balance: Balancing staff management with other responsibilities
A role consisting solely of staff management responsibilities is a rarity. Therefore being a so-called “working manager” is not a lone burden but the reality faced by most managers. Therefore managers need to be both effective and time efficient at managing their staff. Knowing what to focus on and having quick, proven methods and techniques is the key to being an Effective Manager. It's not about working harder, or becoming a business genius because these things are difficult to do. Being an Effective Manager is about spending your limited time and energy on what is most effective at producing results.
Those are the 5 items that aren’t explicitly on your Job Description but are the fundamental responsibilities of anyone who manages staff. These are also the 5 things that Effective Managers do. Being an Effective Manager doesn't require that you have any above average people skills or business knowledge. It means doing what produces the best results with the least effort. If you have methods and techniques to addresses these 5 items then you will find that the basics are taken care of and everything else becomes an order of magnitude easier. If you neglect these 5 areas you will find that you are exhausting your energy on dealing with symptoms. To you, managing people will feel like you are swimming against the tide.
Other relevant material:
SPECIAL MENTION ABOUT ONE-ON-ONE MEETINGS
Do you know that regular, high quality one-on-ones with your employees are the single easiest management practice. Do one-on-ones right and not only can you can take care of almost all your management responsibilities in one go but they will also deliver you to manager Nirvana . It almost seems too good to be true – which could be why some managers don’t believe in them.
The reason why not every manager believes in one-on-ones is because not every manager knows how to do fast, high quality one-on-ones. As with anything in life, do it wrong and you're simply not going to see the results. But do it right and one-on-ones will change your life and deliver you to management nirvana.
And the reason why bosses and employees have poor one on ones is simply because no-one shows you how to have high quality One-ones. I know none of my my bosses every taught me this skill and clearly no-one ever showed them either. What I do with Manager Foundation is that I show you the real world boss skills that you need but they don't teach you in university. That's why I made a mini-course on one-on-ones (including a one-on-one template with a one-on-one meeting agenda) which will show you 3 Easy Steps 2 1 on 1's. What I expect you'll find is that you already know some of the content on some type of level but maybe you're not putting it into practice. This will help. As I say this is essential for new managers and helpful for experienced managers.
I hope you find these free insights and actionable tips helpful and inspiring. The best way to learn these skills is by doing one of the training modules and if you would like to learn more I would encourage you to take a course. This is how I support the creation of this content. Please see the side bar for course links or go to the training page to find out more.
So you spent years at university and thousands of dollars to learn a technical skill. But technical skills will only take you so far. People that get ahead know how to manage, motivate and retain their employees. That’s why one hour a week is the best investment you can make in your career, your earnings and confidence at WWW.BOSS.CAMP. The program includes topics such as:
- How to motivate employees,
- What are bad employee motivators,
- What you must do as a manager but isn't on your job description,
- How leaders get power.