Ten years ago, research from Rainmaker Thinking, Inc., confirmed an epidemic of workplace under-management. The firm’s ongoing study reveals that under-managing remains rampant. A full 90% of all leaders and managers do not provide direct reports with sufficient guidance, support and coaching.
Under-managing occurs when leaders with supervisory authority fail to regularly and consistently provide employees with five vital management basics:
Costs and Causes
Research from numerous sources continues to highlight the importance of employees’ relationships with their immediate supervisors. Under-management is the common denominator in most cases of poor workplace performance:
Organizations can ill afford poor management in the post-recession era. Lean and flexible workplaces require finely tuned HR management, as there are simply fewer employees and managers. Yet, employees still rely on their immediate supervisors more than any other individuals for meeting basic needs and expectations.
Managers report several reasons for failing to provide consistent management basics (in decreasing order):
Some managers have gone overboard when providing greater autonomy and empowerment. Perhaps they fear accusations of micromanagement. As the Rainmaker report notes:
We also find another less straightforward set of causes of under-management that are more psychological or philosophical in nature. This is a combination of what we refer to as:
Some managers say they could be stronger and better engaged, but they choose to avoid doing so, citing one of the aforementioned reasons.
The Cure for Under-Managing
By definition, engaged managers:
Unfortunately, managers spend much of their time handling personnel conflicts and “putting out fires.” They have to play catch-up after crises are averted, leaving less time for quality management conversations and effective leadership practices.
You can cure any under-management problems by holding regular, highly structured, high-substance one-on-one conversations with each direct report. Commit to covering the five fundamentals of good management:
Tulgan advises managers to set aside an hour a day to hold conversations with three to four employees (about 15 minutes per person). Be sure to have a well-organized agenda. Additionally:
As for high substance, make sure content is immediately relevant and specific to each person/situation. This is where many managers miss the boat. As stated earlier, preplanning is key. Follow these guidelines:
High-structure/-substance conversations provide a clear window into employee problems before they become crises. Engaged managers use this tool to learn what’s really going on. Doing so each day, starting with a minimum of 1 hour, will prevent potential challenges from exploding into fires.
Use these conversations to identify and memorialize any negative behaviors. Be sure to:
If any of your people complain during your meetings, ask them to provide solutions to the problems they see. Have them prepare an executive summary that covers key points:
This approach teaches employees to focus, troubleshoot solutions and participate in making changes. You’ll boost productivity and overall quality almost immediately.
Today, in a fast paced and competitive world, managers need to perform near-miracles. They increasingly use professional coaches like me to help them develop their skills to unleash the potential of their staff.
I offer a 30-minute telephone consultation, which will be scheduled at no cost to you. Request at email@example.com. I also welcome your referrals.