Three Keys to Effective Employee Management
Managers in small to mid-sized businesses are typically “working managers.” By that, I mean they have production tasks and responsibilities along with their management responsibilities. These “working managers” often struggle with time management, focusing more on production tasks than effective employee management. This is a foundational mindset and time utilization shift that doesn’t come easily.
To help managers focus on the most important “manager” responsibilities, I have identified three key tasks that will serve the manager and organization well. These three keys have been gleaned from some extensive Gallup research provided to us in the book It’s the Manager by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter. These keys have proven true in my own experience, so I like to refer to them as the three keys to effective employee management.
Effective Employee Management: Establish Expectations
The first key task for the manager is to establish expectations. This should be a collaborative exercise where the employee shares their perspective on the goals and tasks that will make them successful in their role, and the manager shares his/her perspective as well. Together the employee and manager should define some mutually agreed upon expectations. Of course, if there is disagreement that cannot be reconciled, the manager must make a judgement call as to whose perspective will rule.
The Gallup research revealed that employees whose manager involved them in setting goals and expectations were nearly four times more likely to be engaged than other employees. Yet only 30% of employees experience this basic exercise with their manager. Clifton and Harter observed that organizations who fail in this basic management task typically struggled to inspire and develop employees because their approach resulted in unclear and misaligned expectations.
In my opinion, the first and most foundational task of the manager is to engage the employee in the expectations conversation and ensure that clear, realistic expectations are established.
Effective Employee Management: Continually Coach
The second key task for the manager is to continually coach. Traditional management systems are usually lacking in this area. This is one of the primary reasons employees fail to meet expectations. Today’s workers often ask for their manager to be a coach, not just a boss. They want to see the bigger picture and how they contribute to it. They want clear expectations, accountability, and purpose. They want ongoing feedback and coaching.
Performance management needs to be paired with individualized development. An effective development plan should begin with an understanding of the employee’s individual strengths and personal goals. By taking this approach the employee grows and experiences fulfillment, and the organization thrives because employee development is directly related to business goals.
Gallup’s research revealed that employees who receive daily feedback from their manager are three times more likely to be engaged than those who receive feedback once a year or less. Clifton and Harter suggest that employees need meaningful feedback at least once a week. These coaching conversations can vary from daily check-ins to weekly developmental coaching.
Effective Employee Management: Create Accountability
The third key task for the manager is to create accountability. Accountability is not focused on consequences, it’s focused on ownership, and it is accomplished through systematic, intentional conversations. Our aim should be to help the employee define the future they want and to support them in individual pursuits that benefit both the employee and the company.
I recommend that managers have progress reviews quarterly and focus on the employee’s purpose, goals, metrics, development, strategy, team contribution, and personal life. These reviews should be achievement-oriented, fair and accurate, and centered on development.
While “producing” managers will always be time challenged, if they will give priority attention to these three tasks they will increase their manager-effectiveness significantly.
If you or your management team would like to explore ways to improve management effectiveness and increase capacity, contact us to schedule an introductory conversation. There’s no obligation. A 20-minute phone call will enable us both to determine if our executive coaching/leadership development services are right for you.