Article Home Read Articles
Key To Become Great Manager


"Talented employees need Great Managers"… An employee may join a company because of its charismatic leaders, its generous benefits and its world class training programs, but how long that employee stays and how productive he is while he is there is determined by his relationship with his immediate supervisor.  

The Great Managers have little in common, adopt different styles, focus on different goals and reject the conventional wisdom. They build a work environment where the employees answer positively to following 12 questions:

i)    Do I know what is expected of   me at work?
ii)   Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
iii)  At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday?
iv)  In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
v)  Does my supervisor or someone at work seem to care about me as a person?
vi) Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
vii) At work, do my opinions seem to count?
viii) Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
ix)  Are my coworkers committed to doing quality work?
x)  Do I have a best friend at work?
xi) In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
xii) This last year have I had the opportunity at work to learn and grow?

The companies that reflected positive responses to these questions were more productive, had more profit, retained more employees and had more satisfied customers.
Based on a study, Four Keys been outlined for becoming Great Managers. 

First Key: Select for Talent-   Great Managers select the employees for talent not simply experience, intelligence or determination.

-  Great Managers define a talent as "recurring pattern of thought feeling or behaviour that can be productively applied". Talents, they say, are the behaviour we find ourselves doing often. Instinctive ability to remember names, fascination with risk, impatience, love of crossword puzzles etc. are all talent. This definition of talent guides great managers to believe that every role, performed at excellence requires talent, because every role, performed at excellence requires certain recurring patterns of thought, feeling, or behaviour. This means great nurses, great truck drivers, great teachers, great housekeepers all have talent.

-          You cannot teach talent. You cannot teach someone to form strong opinion, to feel the emotions of others etc. You have to select for talents like these. Further talents like these prove to be the driving force behind an individual job performance. Experience, intelligence, determination are important, but talent – What drives him, how he thinks, how he builds relationship- is more important.

-          Skills, knowledge and talents are distinct elements of a person's performance. Skill and knowledge can be taught whereas talent cannot. This distinction helps a manager identify where radical change is possible and where it is not; to know what can be taught and what requires a natural talent.

Second Key: Define the Right Outcomes

 -          When setting expectations great managers define the right outcomes and not the right steps and let each person find his own route towards those outcomes

. -          Great Managers want each employee to feel a certain tension, a tension to achieve. Defining the right outcomes creates that tension.

-          To figure out the Right outcomes great managers follow these guidelines:
  • Whether the customers value those outcomes?
  • Are the outcomes in line with the company's strategy?
  • Do the outcomes play to the employees strengths?
-          Further Great Managers are aware of the fact that unrestrained empowerment can be a value killer. So while giving freedom to choose steps by employee they ensure that certain rules are followed such as:
  • Employees follow certain required steps for all aspects of their role that deal with accuracy and safety.
  • The steps are within company and industry standard.
Third Key: Focus on Strengths 

-          Great managers motivate each person to speed his progress towards performance by focusing on strengths and not trying fix his weaknesses. They don't try to make each person perfect but do everything to help each person become more of what he already is.

-          Great Managers treat every employee as an individual and believe that no matter what his chosen profession, each person is unique. So they try to identify each person's talents and help him to cultivate those talents

.-          Casting for talent is one of the unwritten secrets of the success of great managers. To turn talent into performance managers must cast each person in the right role.

-          Best Mangers talk with each individual, asking about strengths, weaknesses, goals and dreams. They work closely with each employee, notice things, take their time, because they know that the surest way to identify each person's talents is to watch his or her behaviour over time.

-          Best Managers spend the most time with their best employees- setting a unique set of expectations, highlighting and perfecting each person's unique style, and removing barriers, so that each can exercise his talents even more freely.

. -          Focusing on strengths does not mean that great managers ignore non-performance. They begin dealing with non performance by asking two questions:
  • is the poor performance trainable? If the employee is struggling because he doesn't have the necessary skill or knowledge then it almost certainly is trainable.
  • Is the non performance caused by the manager himself tripping the wrong trigger? Each employee is motivated differently. If he is trying to motivate a non-competitive person with contests or a shy person with public praise then the solution to non performance might well be in his hands.
Forth Key: Find the Right Fit 
-          Great Managers develop their employees by helping him find the Right Fit and not simply the next rung on the ladder. They helped each person find roles where his strengths – skill, knowledge and talent-match the demand of the role.

-          Great Managers reject the conventional wisdom regarding career path. They believe that one rung of a ladder doesn't necessary  lead to another. Excellence in every role requires distinct talents. A person's success on one rung may not guarantee success on the next rung.

-          In order to redirect employees' ambition to climb the conventional ladder, Great managers create heroes in every role. They make every role performed at excellence, a respected profession. They envision a company where there are multiple routes toward respect and prestige, a company where the best secretaries carry a vice president title where the best housekeepers earn twice as much as their supervisors and where anyone performing with excellence is recognized publicly.

-          No matter how menial the role appears, they work hard to define meaningful criteria that can help a dedicated employee track his progress toward world class performance.

-          They device innovative ways to reward employees for excellent performance, without necessarily promoting these employees out of their current role.

-          Great managers disagree with the assumption that varied experiences make the employee more attractive for being chosen to the next rung. In their view, the hunt for marketable skills and experiences should not be the force driving the employee's career. The driving force for a healthy career is self-discovery. The energy for healthy career is generated from discovering the talents that are already there, not from filling oneself up with marketable experiences.

-          To help employees towards self discovery, managers give performance feedback so that the employee has a chance to discover a little more about who is he, how he works etc.

-          Although each manager employed his own approach to feedback, their approaches shared three characteristics:
  • Feedback was continuous.
  • Each session began with a brief review of past performance and focus to the future and how the employee could use her style to be productive.
  • They made a point of giving their feedback in private, one on one.
Turning the Keys
  • A manager must excel in the art of interviewing. He should see if the candidate's recurring patterns of the behaviour match the role he is to fulfill. He should ask open-ended questions and let him talk and listen for specifics.
  • In order to discipline themselves for turning the three final keys despite day to day work pressures, the managers followed a " Performance Management" routine which had four common characteristics.
-          The routine is simple, not complex performance appraisal scheme.
-          Routine forces frequent interactions between manager and employee.
-          Routine is focused on the future.
-          The routine asks the employee to keep track of his own performance and learnings.

Every great manager has his own style but they share the same goal: to turn each employee's talent into performance. They above four keys reveal how they attack this goal. It's not suggested to incorporate every action listed in four keys into our style but to choose from these actions of different great managers, refine them, improve them and fashion them into a form that fits us.a