Being employed means, at some point, working for a bad manager. If you haven’t had a boss who’s made your life miserable—at least a little miserable—you’re either incredibly lucky or have never held a job.
In fact, according to staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle Network, nearly 9 out of 10 people say they’ve worked under a bad boss.
Why is this a near-universal phenomenon? Perhaps because there are so many ways a boss can screw up. To paraphrase Tolstoy: good managers are all alike; every bad manager is a nightmare in their own, special way.
Some bosses micromanage…
…while others neglect their duties.
Some berate and belittle their reports…
…while others are afraid to speak up when there’s a problem or disagreement.
Some managers overload and expect too much from their teams…
…or struggle to delegate…
…or blame other people for their mistakes…
…or lack the ability to communicate clearly.
Sometimes, an individual in a management position willfully—even gleefully—misuses authority, but just as often it’s a matter of the wrong person in the wrong job. That “bad boss” could be trying her best to be a great manager, but she’s unqualified or unprepared for the responsibilities of her role.
All of which is to say that who you promote—and how you promote—matters. To create good managers, you’ll need to select the right ingredients and follow the correct recipe.
With that in mind, we’re going through each of the 5 basic elements and skills managers need, with step-by-step instructions on how to identify and develop the best people for the job. Think of each element and skill as a stage in a recipe—chopping, whisking, boiling, baking*—without which the whole thing would spoil or fall apart. Follow these steps and you’ll end up with a brilliant, well-seasoned management team sure to engage even the most demanding workforce.
1st Stage: Determining Basic Compliance and Management Competency
What you’ll need:
- your employee handbook
- an overview of federal and state employee protection laws
- a rundown of all federal and state regulations affecting your industry
- a job description for managers at your company
Being a manager not only means having numerous day-to-day responsibilities, but also navigating everyday risk. Through their actions and inactions, managers can either protect their organizations from worst-case scenarios, or expose the entire workforce to incidents of harassment, security breaches, legal conflicts, regulatory action, and other perils and uncertainty. As such, the first skill of any effective manager is knowing and following basic information around employee rights and employer responsibilities.
Consider if your managers understand the ins and outs of their roles, as well as what tools you have in place to confirm their understanding. Can your managers explain what your organization expects from the people in charge of teams? Do they possess the requisite skills—listening, planning, decision-making, verbal and written communication, and so forth? Are they aware of their responsibilities to guide, coach, and keep track of their reports? Are they ready to handle disputes and conflicts? Pose these kinds of questions during initial interviews and regular check-ins.
Find out if your managers possess adequate knowledge of all the rules they need to be following—from both within and outside your organization. Every manager should be knowledgeable about topics such as employee health and safety measures, security and privacy procedures, UDAAPs, and your company’s code of conduct. Train your personnel on all applicable rules, laws, and procedures as soon as they enter the management role, and then keep their knowledge up-to-date with periodic refreshers.
Make sure your managers are aware of the ways in which they contribute—or not—to creating a workplace free from harassment and discrimination. Train them on anti-discrimination laws and policies, then test their comprehension. Walk them through the systems and tools your organization uses to manage harassment and discrimination data. If and when an incident does occur, check to see if managers are following the correct reporting and follow-up procedures in a thorough and timely manner.
Verify your managers’ ability to successfully onboard and offboard members of their teams. Teach your managers to not only instruct new hires on proper workplace conduct, but to model good behavior throughout their interactions. Give managers the tools and resources they need to demonstrate business alignment—as well as job and performance expectations—to each employee. Solicit feedback from new hires about their interactions with their bosses, their experiences at the organization, their engagement at work, and their sense of opportunities for upward mobility.
These 4 considerations form the basis for effective managers. But to develop great bosses, you’ll need to follow the full recipe. Keep that oven warm—because next week, we’ll be taking a look at hiring skills.
*Please don’t cook your managers.