Your managers are one of the most important parts of your company’s infrastructure, as they’re responsible for the success of your individual projects, for the performance of any retail and/or wholesale outlets your company manages, and for the overall effectiveness of you employees.
But while management candidates may look wonderful on paper or may “feel” like a good fit for the position – especially if they’ve been promoted from within the company – objectively evaluating your management team is an essential skill that must be cultivated. In order to do so, you must first disassociate yourself personally in order to measure individual managers and candidates based on standard expectations, performance and group cohesion.
Outline Your Basic Expectations from the Start
In business, it’s essential to have your basic expectations codified. This may mean putting expectations in a contract, a job proposal or some other biding document – but often, it’s as simple as stating your expectations verbally or in memos, email or texts.
Having basic expectations in place from the start serves two purposes. First, it ensures a baseline for future measurements and second, it gives you leverage to push back if your management team isn’t living up to the expectations you’ve outlined.
Signs of Good Management
Creating a successful team begins with finding emotionally capable managers. We try to distance emotion from business in so many ways, but as human beings, it’s impossible to completely separate the two.
To assist in this process, the Harvard Business Review has published five components of emotional intelligence that can be extremely helpful when estimating how good potential management candidates might be. Similarly, these criteria can help you to effectively judge your management’s potential at any step along the way.
The five criteria are:
1) Self-Awareness – Your managers’ ability to recognize their own moods
2) Self-Regulation – Their ability to separate personal mood from job performance
3) Motivation – The level of passion for the job that goes beyond salary
4) Empathy – Their ability to actually “connect” with employees, clients and customers
5) Social Skills – Their ability to “gel” with employees and other managers, as well as the ability to clearly communicate ideas and concepts
Daniel Goleman was the first to recognize these five criteria as essential in the business world; and since 1998, his research has helped thousands of companies worldwide to improve the effectiveness of their management hiring practices.
Balancing the Importance of Metrics
Accurate metrics – whether they involve sales, production, repeat customers, rings per minute and so on – are important for judging a manager’s improvement over baseline performance. But how important are they when judging your management team as a whole?
Jed Zaits of EDS Medicaid Management Information Systems Group agrees with the measurement role of metrics, but notes that “soft skills” must also be mixed into the evaluation in order to create a more complete picture. In short, numbers just aren’t enough.
As an example, retail operations under your current management team may be growing at an unprecedented rate, but if your team is alienating workers, creating bad press and allowing unnecessary expenditures they’re just setting you and your business up for failure.
Open and inviting workplaces tend to be the most effective ones. These environments attract productive and forward-thinking employees, making them more successful by default than cloistered operations. As a result, if your management team is hiding behind closed doors – figuratively or literally – they’ll ostracize employees, customers and even other managers. It’s essential that your managers see and be seen.
Interestingly, Joan Henshaw, a professional performance coach, discovered that while 50% of managers said they held meetings with each employee on a weekly basis, only 17% of employees agreed with this assertion. In this case, management team members were either lying or greatly underestimating the importance of certain employee interactions.
Measuring Employee Disconnect
Ms. Henshaw also notes that while 63% of managers say they dole out praise and recognition, only 19% of employees felt that these practices were occurring regularly. How is this possible? Clearly, what most managers see as praise either falls on deaf ears or isn’t memorable enough to count as such in the eyes of employees. To prevent employee disconnect , make sure your management team is giving credit where credit is due – praise is essential for proper employee training and motivation.
Signs of Trouble
When it comes to management evaluations, there are several red flags that you should watch out for in-between individual assessment sessions. These signs could signal a serious problem with your management team and require swift action on your part to ensure things don’t get worse.
High Employee Turnover
High turnover may be due to faulty hiring practices, a lack of responsiveness to a competitive job market or poor interpersonal skills on the part of your managers.
Repeated Negative Customer or Client Feedback
Your customers and clients are the lifeblood of your business. Any negative feedback from them should be investigated fully. And while many such comments spring from single unavoidable “bad experiences,” repeated complaints could signal a disconnect between your management team and employees, or your management team and your market.
Decreased Sales or Productivity
It’s not enough to chalk decreased profits up to a declining economy or seasonal fluctuations. Though these factors can definitely affect your metrics, your management team also holds a great deal of responsibility over these numbers. Simple changes in your management staff could make all the difference and turn these critical success figures around, but in some cases, radical replacement may be the only option.
Failure to Communicate
If your management team is repeatedly lax in returning your calls, getting you the reports you need or responding to your directives, it may be time for an in-person visit. Responsiveness to changing market demands and business tactics is a key indicator of the quality of performance your managers are delivering. Don’t let them off the hook when it comes to communicating their efforts back to you!
If any of the scenarios described above ring true to your current business situation, it could be that your management team is in dire need of a review. When we hire managers, we hope that they’ll give our businesses the same level of care we would, but this isn’t always the case. Regular performance evaluations that cover all the criteria listed above will prevent any bad apples that have found their way into your company from spoiling the bunch.