Developing Managers for Team-Driven Success

By William Moskal Print this article Print

Why leaders must focus on awareness, readiness and commitment to strengthen behavior and morale.

Investors know that past performance is no indication of future returns. Unfortunately, this can also hold true for employees as they rise through the management ranks.

When new managers fail to recognize that they’re on a path with greater responsibilities, they may cling to tasks at which they once excelled but that now belong to those they lead. Managers need to learn how to correct any behaviors that hinder leadership and unintentionally obstruct or alienate employees.

Subversion in lieu of supervision occurs from neglect as well as from “command and control” rigidity. Delays, dissension and turnover can result from the following executive behaviors:

• Micromanagement: Decisions are imposed, not delegated. First-line authority is overruled openly. There are frequent project status checks, and brainstorming is given a low priority.

• Communication gaps: Goals, strategies, expectations and timelines are not shared. E-mail copying and forwarding is not used as an awareness tool. Feedback is withheld.

• Inconsistency: There are abrupt reversals, deadline changes and frequent new priorities.

• Intimidation: There’s a disproportionate focus on discipline, not coaching, including public criticism and rudeness.

• Self-promotion:Opportunities are not shared, and credit is hoarded.

• Lack of mentoring: Subordinate managers are not groomed for advancement. Cross-training and interdepartmental assignments are not encouraged, and access to upper management is restricted.

The reassuring news is that managers who unwittingly build barriers can also remove them. The most productive results arise when senior management recognizes a need for structural and cultural change, rather than paying isolated attention to midlevel managers.

Senior executives should take a wide-angle look to identify opportunities to empower and motivate front-line managers, while avoiding corrective approaches that stigmatize and single out individuals. Proven approaches for strengthening behavior follow a three-step process: awareness, readiness and commitment (ARC).

The first step—awareness—involves enlightening managers by challenging assumptions and creating new understandings. Readiness—the second step —involves searching for better tools and approaches. These two steps may involve anonymous surveys, 360-degree evaluations or focus groups. Also, training can address issues that range from delegating and mentoring to problem-solving and leadership styles.

Commitment is the “staying power” step. It requires time and effort to indoctrinate managers with new behaviors and ensure they stay committed to change.

This article was originally published on 2009-10-26
William Moskal, with IRI Consultants in Detroit, is an authority in team building, leadership development and coaching.
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