By Martin Goodwill, managing director of employment testing service, Profiles International
Effective managers do more than just supervise employees: they take responsibility for ensuring that an individual succeeds, and that the team, department or business unit achieves expected results.
The most productive companies provide their managers with the information and tools they need to understand the capabilities and styles of their teams. This gives managers a solid foundation for more effective coaching relationships.
Over the years we have identified eight signs of incompetent managers:
2. Weak leadership capabilities
3. Inability or unwillingness to adapt to change
4. Poor relationship-building skills
5. Ineffective task management
6. Poor productivity
7. Poor development of others
8. Neglectful of own personal development
Sound familiar? Let’s take a look at each of the signs in detail.
1. The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished.
Poor communicators forget that manager-employee communication is a two-way street. They talk but they seldom listen.
Instead of communicating clearly in writing, in person, and when using body language, poor communicators often work in a vacuum. They don’t try to understand, and are quick to dismiss, other points of view.
Poor communicators demonstrate negative body language that discourages others from elaborating on their ideas. They rarely give others their undivided attention, coming across as disorganised, insincere or lacking in confidence.
2. Weak leaders are sometimes afraid to bruise egos – including their own.
Sometimes it’s tough to speak the plain but inconvenient truth that people really need to hear. No one likes to be criticised, but that’s what makes organisations effective. Great leaders can set an example; they walk the walk and talk the talk.
3. You cannot leap a 20ft chasm in two 10ft jumps.
Change is hard. But effective managers know how to handle it. They can adjust to new circumstances. When things are ambiguous, they remain comfortable. In a crisis, they seek solutions. It’s often been said that the only constant is change. The trick is to keep a clear head, manage expectations and enable change. Strong managers are change agents.
4. Relationship building is an art, but not every manager is a natural relationship artist.
Relationships – professional as well as personal – require work. Good communication is a cornerstone of a healthy, productive relationship. So are trust and respect.
Good relationship builders respect people’s differences; they’re tolerant. They praise more than they criticise. And when they do criticise, they focus on behaviour, not people.
5. When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
Effective task managers know how to establish priorities. They know how to say “No!” to activities that will divert them. They can see the big picture and break it down into the specific tasks required.
They are skilled at assessing resources, allocating time and materials, motivating people and ensuring that every milestone and deliverable is accomplished on time and on budget.
6. Are your managers on track to achieve reliable results?
Poor productivity can have myriad causes. It could be a simple lack of resources or funding or simply unrealistic expectations. Some managers lack the technical knowledge to ensure that demands are met.
Others lack a sense of urgency, even on matters that are critical to the organisation. They take a “wait and see” attitude instead of taking concrete action.
7. Cultivating talent and motivating others doesn’t always come easy.
Developing other people’s talents is an art – one at which not everyone is adept. It can be hard work. Not everyone is naturally capable of delivering constructive criticism. Nor is everyone observant enough to make note of another person’s habits, including the habits that need to change.
8. Manager, improve thyself
Profiles has observed many managers who don’t develop their own communication styles, organisational skills or work habits. They claim that they’re committed to the organisation or the team, but unless they continually improve their own skills and talents, how will they recognise the importance of personal development for the whole team?
Like winning coaches, successful managers are both talented and skilled. Of course, managerial skills can be developed through training, mentoring, and experience. But if a manager lacks natural talent, his or her odds of success will diminish significantly.
If you recognise any of these symptoms in your (or your client’s) management team, then:
• Identify the natural leadership skills and abilities within your organisation
• Evaluate your current managers by using a 360° competency feedback system
• Use the reports to create development plans for struggling managers
• Reassign underperforming managers to other roles in your business where they can be top performers.
Martin Goodwill is managing director of employment testing service Profiles International. This article is adapted from ‘8 Signs of Incompetent Managers’, part of the Expert Insights series from Profiles International.