13 percent increase in productivity

Nora Akins

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business’ five-year study of nearly 24,000 workers and almost 2,000 bosses resulted in 6 million measurements to determine the impact of management on productivity. Each worker averaged four managers a year to determine the outcomes from a good manager contrasted with a poor manager. The findings revealed a 13 percent increase in productivity when replacing a poor manager with a good manager.

Being a good manager is complex, requiring several skillsets and perhaps most of all is self-awareness. According to a recent Gallup poll, 75 percent of respondents reported experiencing abusive behavior at work sometime in their career; of people who quit their jobs, at least 50 percent quit because of their bosses; and 70 percent of variability in employee engagement is a result of their managers.

John Meriac and others studied 168 variables and reduced the skillset of management to seven talents which was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(5). The most important one is “the ability to form, redefine, repair and maintain strong working relationships.” Without the ability to relate exceeding well with others, the other six talents will result in little benefit.

People who work for a manager who relates well perform better with more discretionary effort which results in having better careers, more resilience and even happiness. Managers are people and people are emotional beings. That’s where self-awareness enters the picture. Three emotional needs include status, inclusion and autonomy. Examples of status include being right, being admired and gaining approval; inclusion includes having a sense of belonging, feeling supported, being valued; and autonomy includes being independent and in control.

Should a manager have a strong need for inclusion, he may focus so much on maintaining a positive relationship that he ignores poor performance, is too open about his personal life and sees himself as a friend rather than a manager. Should a manager have a strong sense of autonomy, she may be overly critical, uninterested in forming relationships and too focused on output. Being aware of your emotional triggers and crystal clear about your team’s purpose is the path to good management.

The good manager must create a compelling team purpose with goals and targets and build a shared identity to motivate and inspire the team. That shared identity establishes how we behave toward each other. Establishing and communicating a set of behavioral expectations makes it easier to respond if expectations are violated. An example of a behavioral expectation to ensure all team members are upfront and open during team meetings and decisions are made at the team level is “after meeting meetings” are not permitted. Should an after meeting be held, team members should feel comfortable mentioning the contract.

Good managers walk a tightrope every day; establishing and maintaining professional boundaries to balance relationships and tasks. The quality of the relationship with the manager determines how team members receive and respond to the manager. Investing in management development early in a career will improve self-awareness and encourage ongoing professional development. Good managers build healthy and respectful workplaces.

Nora T. Akins, of Strategic Management provides management training and refines human resource systems to help employers build respectful workplaces. Reach Nora at 219 873-1735 or nora@managepeopleright.com.

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