We all hear a lot about the detriments of micro-managing employees.
But what I have seen occurring more frequently in my almost 20 years of consulting is that employees are more often under-managed.
Behaviors that show up when under-management is taking place are:
weak business and employee performance management
a tendency to avoid conflicts with employees
These three behaviors always mean that the business is not getting the outcomes planned for and managers are probably struggling to get results.
Causes Behind the Under-Management
There are many causes behind the under-management phenomenon. Listed below are some of the most common causes.
Lack of Metrics, Measuring and Tracking
Not having key performance metrics (financial, operational, processes) in place that link to organizational, team and individual goals—or if they are in place, not consistently measuring, tracking or managing them.
Little Feedback and Follow Up
Not delivering personal growth-oriented feedback and performance review meetings with employees, both annually, and frequently throughout the year; not following up with a documented performance improvement plan and meetings with employees to improve performance.
Infrequent Work Team Communications
Having a lack of communication or team meetings with the team members the managers are to be managing. This fuels ineffective communication, i.e. everyone’s not “on the same page,” and productive, problem-solving discussions don’t take place.
Not Handling Employee Performance Issues Well
Not acting quickly when an employee performance problem crops up or exists. Or a failure to put a performance improvement plan in place with established goals for improvement, and planned feedback meetings to coach and encourage performance improvement.
Conflict is inherently stressful and unpleasant in adverse situations, but entirely beneficial and desirable in productive cases! Many managers avoid conflict because they don’t know how to confidently handle it. Note if your team seems to be having a lot of negative conflict there is a good chance that a lack of trust exists.
Promises Are Not Kept
Experiencing little follow-through from others: when people promise to do something, and then they don’t do it, and things to improve the business don’t happen.
This shows up as people discuss problems in the business and actions to take to solve the problems are agreed upon.
Yet, the desired changes don’t happen because actions aren't implemented because people don’t follow through and do what they said they would do. Under-management occurs when they aren’t being held accountable to the promises they made.
This allows the same problems keep persisting and dragging the business, and everyone in it down.
All these ways I noted are but a few examples of how under-managing shows up in a business.
I’m certain that if under-management is occurring, by reading this list you’ve probably already determined where in your business it is happening.
What To Do About It
The good news is that it is possible to improve your managers’ management skills and their work team’s performance.
The first step is to recognize where under-management is occurring, and then coaching and supporting the managers to help them develop their management “muscle” and skills.
While every organization is different and has its unique problems and challenges, if you think some of your managers are under-managing, here are some examples of steps to take that reach across all types of businesses and industries:
Assign management accountability for key performance metrics and determine reporting frequency (weekly, monthly, quarterly).
Make sure employees get feedback from their managers about their performance frequently throughout the year, and annually.
Deal with employee performance problems quickly and come up with a joint performance improvement plan with the employee.
Establish a frequent communication and meeting system for workplace teams to share information and problem-solve (daily huddle, weekly/bi-weekly and quarterly offsite meetings, in-house team-generated newsletter)
Don’t avoid conflict. Teach your managers how to effectively and confidently manage it.
Ensure that the organizational mission and goals are clear to employees, that they agree to them, and they see their role in helping the company to achieve them. Goals are the road map to guide the work with the employee team all year.
Hold managers and other employees accountable to the goals and key performance metrics (financial, operational, process) and results they are responsible.
Develop a process for facilitating effective, engaging team meetings to identify issues and solve problems.
Helping your managers manage more effectively is a winning situation for your organization because, in the end, everyone works together better as a team to achieve the desired business goals and outcomes—which is good for everyone’s career and life.
If you’d like to improve the skills and performance of your management team I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me by calling 847.989.0513 or by clicking here.