Our research has shown the vital role middle managers play in the success of employee engagement efforts. Employees prefer direct supervisors to HR or C-level executives when it comes to implementing programs. Effective managers improve retention and increase productivity.
In fact, Google believes managers are so important that they invested in an analytics program to measure what makes managers effective. They’ve used those valuable data to train managers, resulting in statistically significant improvement among 75% of managers, according to the New York Times.
But what makes an effective manager? While there’s room for individual, stylistic differences, successful managers do have common traits.
The best managers are those who guide their teams to success. They’re able to coach employees to discover the right solutions independently. Google’s research discovered that the best managers “help people puzzle through problems by asking questions,” rather than just dole out definitive answers. Those questions are derived from experience and a depth of institutional knowledge. Perhaps most of all, effective managers lead by example. They act the way they want their employees to act.
The micromanager stresses out about every detail. They can’t cede control, so they end up doing everything on their own. This isn’t managing — it’s just doing a lot of work. Successful managers know the strengths and weaknesses of their employees. They assign roles with those qualities in mind. When things don’t go as planned, they reflect on how to improve the next time around.
Assembling strong teamwork isn’t easy. But it is necessary to develop innovative solutions to difficult problems. A Clear Company survey found that 75% of employees believe collaboration is “very important.” Managers shouldn’t only look at skills when assembling project teams. They also need to look at how well personalities fit together. This goes for hiring too.
There’s consistent evidence that employees believe their managers are biased. They’re more likely to choose people they like for a promotion or an important task rather than the most-qualified individual. Effective managers fight this by being results oriented. As much as possible, look for objective, measurable ways to rate employee performance.
Effective managers know the value of telling employees when they’ve done a good job. They also know the value of peer-to-peer recognition. In fact, using a peer-to-peer recognition tool may be one of the most effective engagement strategies around. Research demonstrates the power of peers and colleagues in the workplace. Managers should look for ways to solidify this foundational aspect of organizational culture.