It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. This is a tale of two companies—companies of equal size offering analogous products within the same industry.
- Company A has doubled its customers in the span of a year. Company B has lost more business over the past twelve months than ever before in our company’s history.
- No employee has left Company A since 2015. Company B is in the middle of replacing a department’s worth of workers.
- Company A’s workforce compliance scores are at an all-time high. Company B is facing 2 investigations, 3 lawsuits, and more than a dozen harassment complaints.
Can you guess what’s different between the two companies? I’ll tell you: Company A has good managers. Company B does not.
More often than not, managers are the reason an organization underperforms or outperforms competitors. Managers might not account for all the reasons companies differ in terms of productivity but, according to Gallup, management is responsible for approximately 70% of the variance in team level engagement. In other words, if you’ve addressed every obvious risk and obstacle in your workplace and still can’t figure out why your company is lagging behind, there’s a good chance your managers don’t know how to motivate their teams.
Sure, your managers may demonstrate a knack for handling their responsibilities and bringing in extraordinary employees, but these capabilities only lay the foundation for success. Smart, talented, and highly qualified people don’t automatically coalesce into a team. They need motivation to do their best every day. They need a reason to care.
This is why, of all the components of effective managers, teamwork and productivity skills may be the most consequential. Here’s how to develop them:
3rd Stage: Developing Teamwork and Productivity Skills
What you’ll need:
- organizational performance data
- a means of collecting employee feedback
- a conference room or other private meeting area
- time and patience
- an organizational leadership consultant
Employee engagement studies show a clear link between poor management and a nation of “checked out” employees. Buck this trend by making sure your managers understand how to keep their teams engaged and productive.
There’s a strong correlation between engaged employees and employees whose manager helps them set priorities. Make sure your managers have strong skills in this area—because even the most talented employees will flounder without support and motivation.
Start by asking the right questions.
Consider the nature and extent of your managers’ coaching skills. Do your managers support and champion the members of their teams? Do they empower their teams to consistently excel and exceed expectations? Or are your managers habitually absent, distant, or unavailable for employees? Worse, do your managers actively hinder teamwork—for example, by bullying, micromanaging, lying, contradicting themselves, or shifting blame?
Broaden your inquiry. Think about all of your managers’ leadership skills, the quantifiable and non-quantifiable qualities that make an effective boss. Do your managers understand the building blocks of employee engagement? Do they know how to communicate with and motivate employees of different generations, cultures, and learning styles?
In addition to thinking about the big picture of management, spend some time focusing on the details as well. How many meetings do your managers hold per week? How long are the meetings? What do they accomplish? What goals have your managers recently set for their teams? What are the managers doing to help team members reach those goals?
Use every method at your organization’s disposal to determine the answers to the questions above. Collect feedback from your employees. Check in with your managers on a regular basis. Keep an eye out for signs of lagging morale in the workplace.
The wider your perspective, the better. You may want to consider hiring an outside consultant to survey your organization and work hands-on with your teams.
Train, train, and train some more. Hone your managers’ abilities to speak, present, strategize, and coach. Invest in educational content in a variety of formats—courses, videos, quizzes, live workshops, and so on—to keep teamwork and productivity skills interesting and fresh in the minds of your managers. Some managers may benefit from taking continuing education classes or attaining management certifications.
Review your managers’ performance periodically. In addition to annual one-on-one meetings, consider checking in with management on a quarterly, monthly, or even weekly basis. If appropriate, have an executive or another member of company leadership occasionally shadow managers during team meetings.
Whenever possible, ensure your managers remain focused on teamwork and productivity by keeping them accountable for organizational outcomes. Connect their performance numbers to sales, customer adoption rates, turnover, and other, larger data points.
We’re almost at the end of our recipe for great managers. Join us next week as we work on the finishing touches (in more ways than one): discipline and termination skills.