Monday, 13 May 2013

As a manager, do you know your impact or are you relying on your intentions?

“It is not enough that your designs, nay that your actions, are intrinsically good, you must take care they shall appear so.” (Henry Fielding).

An effective manager is one of the most significant and valuable assets that the team can possess and the very things the manager does and says could increase the effectiveness of the team - the “Hawthorne Effect” (the increase in productivity and effectiveness that occurs due to the impact of the motivational effect on the team as a result of the interest being shown in them) is prevalent.
Effective Management - A Manager's Intentions
Effective Management
But there is a danger that the manager can be the single biggest thing that gets in the way of people performing. In their actions and behaviours, managers - who are human after all - may mean well but it is worth considering that it is the impact of what the manager does, not the intention behind actions and behaviours that ultimately matters.

“Impact not intention” – this must be the manager’s mantra.
Consider the manager who:

  • always books things in their teams diaries “to save them the effort” 
  • filters communications for the team because “they are too busy to do it themselves” 
  • takes on the frequent checking of work with an individual “because it shows I am interested” 
  • insists on a weekly one to one with each of their team “because it shows I care”
  • pays special attention to underperforming individuals and allows the good performers to carry on without managerial input “because they don’t need me” 
Sound familiar?

“But I meant well, it’s just what they want, what they need,” is the cry that goes up. But who decided that? Are these the best thing for the individuals involved to help them perform?  What are these actions really saying to the team?

How do you know whether your actions and behaviours when managing the team are the ones that are most effective for them?
These managers may be misguided but all want the same thing – for the individual to perform. But what do individuals need from their manager in order to perform?  Why not start by asking the individual?

Whilst it is important to remember that managing people is a collaborative approach and the team cannot decide in isolation what they get, in the managerial process of seeking to ensure that people are developed, the team is built and the task is achieved it is valuable to keep in mind that we are talking about the individuals job and their performance so their voice is crucial.

“Seek first to understand. Then to be understood” wrote Steven Covey.
For a manager, getting feedback on own performance is often ignored in favour of giving feedback on others. But reflect on how valuable it would be to know those behaviours and actions that support and reinforce and those that disturb, disrupt or damage.

There are a few things worth considering:
  • Developing and establishing a 360 (or 180) degree feedback system
  • Building in time at the end of performance meetings to discuss what you do that supports or gets in the way of your people
  • Getting other managers to observe your performance and feedback
  • Having effective performance discussions with own line manager, ensuring that objectives relating to the management of people are agreed, measured and fed back on  
Samuel Johnson said "Hell is paved with good intentions."
No manager wants to live in hell so create the opportunity and take the time to check your impact matches your intentions.

Written by David Mathieson, a learning consultant at Capita Learning & Development.

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