Are You A good Or A Bad Manager? The Easiest (And Cheapest) Way To Find Out

An important part of the Customer Experience is based on how people interacting with prospects and customers are managed. To be able to deliver excellent experiences when interacting with customers, employees need to feel good about their job. They not only need to believe that the product or service they are selling is beneficial for their customers; they also need to feel trusted and supported by their managers so they share positive energy with them. In other words, they need to be happy at work.

“About 50% of the 7,200 adults surveyed left a job “to get away from their manager” Gallup study

It is a simple equation:

Poorly Managed People = Unhappy Employees = Poor Customer Experience

Unfortunately, good managers are not easy to find. Why? There are several reasons why there are so many bad managers; here you have the main three:

  • (Too much) Sense of power and authority
  • Lack of management skills
  • Lack of training

Power & Authority

Partially ,a manager is someone who has the power and authority to make decisions. As Laszlo Bock described in his great book “Work Rules!” one of the biggest challenges Google faced was to take away some decision power from their managers. As an example, managers at google can’t decide whom to hire. A committee of several members representing different parts of the organisation will make that decision for them.  Managers of course didn’t like to lose that level of authority, but at the end, Google have proven to get better new hires doing it this way.

Lack of management skills

How managers become managers actually? In most of the cases, it is based on performance rather than skills. People performing well at their job for a while get the chance to be promoted to be a manager.

Typical example can be found in sales, top sales performers are often given a promotion to management. There is a problem with this approach and it is called skills. In many cases, top sales performers have proven their ability to deliver results selling. They know how to approach a prospect or customer, create opportunities, show the value of the product or service, negotiate the deal and close it. This is great and to be able to do all that, they must have a good set of skills for sure. The issue is that those you need to be a good sales person are not exactly the same you need to be a good sales manager.

Lack of training

The majority of managers receive little or no training in how to manage and get the best out of their people.

Leading vs Managing

Today, everyone wants to be a leader. It is a trendy thing, I am not a manager, I am a leader. I say that too when recruiters ask me what kind of manger I am. The problem is how to actually get to that point where you effectively lead and manage instead of only manage. Yes, to be a leader you need to be a manager too, but being a manager it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a good leader. You probably have seen a picture like this one many times before on social networks:

Image result for manager vs leader

Key steps to be a leader

In order to be a good leader, it is important to master some key elements of management: know your people, give them freedom, guide them and help them making the right decisions.

  • Know your people: each individual is unique and you need to treat them as such. They have different personalities, they are driven by different things, they have different goals and are motivated by different factors. By getting to know them well and by understanding how you can get the best of their capabilities, you will be able to support and motivate them to achieve optimal results
  • Give them freedom: nobody likes to be told what to do all the time. Give your team space to be creative, to look for different ways of doing stuff, motivate them to try new things and give them the chance to learn from their mistakes.
  • Guide them: it is not to tell people what to do and control to see if they have done it. Set some guidelines, give some advice and let them do the work.
  • Help them making the right decisions: as a manager your experience counts. After giving guidance and advice, sit down with them, see what’s working and what’s not and try to find a solution to improve together. Sometimes you will need to make decisions yourself, that’s part of the job, but if you try to make them together with them when possible, you will come across much more as a leader rather than just a manager.

How do we know if we are good managers?

I worked at ten different companies in my career so far. I only had the chance to give feedback about my manager in one of them. HR has been a pretty conservative industry when it comes to technology and innovation, but in the last 5 years there have been many improvements about it. As in many other industries, the rise of start-up companies with innovative solutions has also touched the way how companies treat employees. Tools like Small Improvements, Impraise or Guudjob are helping organisations to provide feedback about employee’s performance better and  more often. Still, most of the companies don’t have any tool or they do reviews in the traditional way, up to bottom: CEO’s review VP’s, VP’s review Directors, Directors review Managers and Managers review the members of their team. Unfortunately, with this model, no one can review their own manager and that’s very important to have the complete picture of someone’s performance.

The easiest and cheapest way of measuring yourself as a manager

I know; your company doesn’t have budget to implement one of those cool talent management solutions. So you can’t really do this. Wrong! As with many things in life, being proactive and taking risks is the only way to outperform at any job, also as a manager.

At a company I worked in the past, we didn’t have budget for any of this. It wasn’t easy, numbers weren’t great and we went through a reorganisation in the middle of the year. Every time I asked HR about doing performance reviews, I got the same answer. We are building a new procedure and new documents to do the (only up to bottom) reviews, you need to wait for a month or so. After a month, two, three, nothing happened. So what did I do?

I was managing a team of 11 people divided into the Customer Success and Customer Support departments based across the globe. It was a mixed of onsite and remote team members and that made it more complex as we needed to use remote connectivity tools such as Skype or Hangouts to interact with each other. It was busy and although I thought I was doing well as a leader (you see?) I felt I didn’t have time enough to spend with all of them because of the many issues we were facing every day with our customers and products. I had to spend most of the time firefighting and solving problems rather than focusing on positive and proactive initiatives with my team in order to keep improving.

But I was very curious about how my team perceived me as a manager. I wanted to know what they were thinking about me. What I was doing well but more importantly, what I could improve or what I wasn’t doing at all and they expected me to do. In my opinion, knowing from your team about my performance as manager is the best way to know what I need to improve to become a better leader and to help them to be more successful.

I couldn’t wait for HR, so I decided to create an anonymous survey. Yes, a survey using Survey Monkey was my proactive initiative to know how I was performing as manager. And yes, I just used their free version.

10 questions. Don’t be afraid to ask. I did my research and found some useful questions. Don’t forget to add at least one with a free text field. Let them tell you everything they want to say about you, the good, the bad and the ugly. Exposing yourself this way isn’t easy, but I highly recommend you do it. How can you go every day to work without knowing how your team think about your performance?

These are some of the answers:

q1

q2

q3

q4.png

Clearly, I had to improve the way I communicated with them…

q5.png

Ok, I know how good or bad manager I am, now what?

You’ve got the results. You probably knew part of the insights, but also found some interesting facts you actually didn’t know about. Now you know what you should keep doing and what you should improve or start doing.

After I got my results, I evaluated them carefully and prepared a presentation. In the first part of the presentation I included the answers just as I got them. In the second part of the presentation, I shared what I was committing to improve based on their feedback. The third part was a plan I made, which contained specific actions that I would start doing the week after. Finally, I arranged team meeting with everyone together and I shared the presentation with them.

It works

People in my team were happy and enthusiastic about it. They liked the fact that I was asking them about their thoughts on how I was doing as a manager. They felt their opinion was important to me, which it really was. This helped me knowing more about myself and improving as a leader. Also, it contributed to make them feel happier at work and of course, by now you should know that happy employees = happy customers. 😉


Thanks for reading! If you like the article, please share it. If you have any feedback, please let me know. I am always looking to keep improving.

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