In my previous article, I explored the channels that are most likely to provide specific and immediate feedback to managers on how they manage. The most common channels (like relying on your boss’s boss) are not reliably effective, while the channel with the highest likelihood of success is to receive feedback directly from employees. So why don’t managers get feedback from their employees?
Many managers are not good at being a manager, and the ones who suffer most directly from poor management practices are the employees. Similarly, employees are also the ones who are most likely to observe the behaviors of the boss, and have the ability to identify different ways for the boss to behave that would help the team perform better (i.e., “Instead of yelling, I would like it if you would speak to me in a calm voice.”) Read more
The Manager by Designsm blog seeks opportunities to design how managers improve in people and team management. A key opportunity is to seek ways on how managers receive feedback in managing.
In my previous blog post, I looked at nine ways employees can give feedback to their manager. However, they all lacked as effective channels for an employee to give feedback, as they were either indirect, high risk, non-specific, have a time-lag, or the feedback provider isn’t necessarily skilled in providing performance feedback. That’s a lot of hurdles!
In today’s post, I’ll provide an examination for where there is the most hope, and what can be done to increase the chances that employees can give useful performance feedback to their managers.
In looking at the nine ways managers get feedback, all have their flaws. Good performance feedback needs to be directly given, be specific and immediate, provided by someone who is able to give performance feedback using behavior-based language, and in the case of the employee giving feedback to the manager, the risk for recrimination needs to be either designed-out or mitigated.
Here’s a grid showing how the various channels stack up: Read more
The Manager by Designsm blog advocates for a new field called “Management Design”, in which managers engage in solid people and team management practices by design, rather than by accident. An example the poor management design experienced today is that managers typically do not have very good channels for receiving performance feedback on their management skills.
I’ve recently explored how managers typically get feedback on their management skills:
In none of these channels do managers receive feedback that is specific and immediate on their management actions, and as discussed in this blog, the more specific and immediate the feedback, the more artful the feedback is. The more artful the feedback, the better the performance. So the corollary is, the less artful the feedback, the worst the performance. And managers have a spotty track record of performance.
This is the latest in a series of posts that identify where managers get feedback on being a manager. I’ve explored quitting employees, attrition rates and management surveys, and I’ve come to the conclusion that none of these give specific and immediate feedback to the managers on how they manage. OK, so how about the manager’s manager? That surely is a place where managers get feedback on how they are doing, right? After all, this blog discusses — nay obsesses over — how it is a manager’s role to provide feedback to their employees on how they are doing in their job. It logically follows that a manager who manages a manager should give feedback on how well their employee is doing as a manager.
Well, let’s see how likely this is to occur
1. Managers tend to reinforce the behaviors that got them promoted
This is the latest in a series of blog posts exploring how managers currently obtain feedback on their performance as people managers. Employees would seem to have a lot of opinions and ideas for managers in this area. The questions is – how do employees give feedback to a manager? Previously, I explored the most common ways for managers to get feedback from their employees: “voting with your feet” and “tracking attrition rates.” I conclude that these don’t constitute performance feedback, because they are vague and delayed, rather than specific and immediate.
OK, so how about management surveys and 360 degree feedback?
Let’s take a look on how well these provide feedback to a manager.
Management Surveys: This is when an organization sends a survey to a manager’s employees (both direct reports and extended team) to rate the manager on a scale (say, 1 to 5) in relation to different areas a manager should have an impact. You may find survey items such as:
“My manager creates an atmosphere of trust”
“My manager listens to my ideas”
“My manager communicates the organization strategy well”
In an article last week, I started a series on how managers receive feedback on their own performance. Most managers don’t actively solicit performance feedback, let alone from their employees, and as a result, the default moment that a manager receives feedback as a manager is when someone quits. As performance feedback, it fails. But what about when a bunch of people quit over a period of time? That has to say something about a manager, doesn’t it?
It does! But there are problems, and as a design for getting information to the manager so that they can change their behaviors, it fails. Here’s why:
Attrition rates = slow, lagging data: Many companies’ HR departments will track attrition rates for managers or divisions within the company. They may even divide attrition between “good attrition” (lower performing or problematic employees who leave) and “bad attrition” (high performing employees who leave). This is excellent information, since it can give visibility to the HR department and the management team where the best and worst rates are in the organization. They can then do a study to identify what is being done in the “high good attrition/low bad attrition” areas, and vice versa. Then they can identify the teams and organizations that are having the most problems, and then work on finding ways to change the behaviors, and try to implement a program that improves the areas where the bad attrition is the highest and good attrition is the lowest. Then they can measure the new “good and bad” attrition rates and see if there has been improvement. . .
An example of tracking positive performance and praise of an employee in an employee performance log
A great manager needs to know the good stuff that is happening on the team. What you track shouldn’t be only areas you’d like to correct. In fact, it should be mostly positive! People come to work and try to get good things done all the time. If the manager doesn’t know what those things are, then the manager is missing lots of opportunities to provide thanks and praise. Also, the manager is going to quickly get a reputation for ignoring good work.
I advocate for creating an employee performance log to track employee behaviors. In previous articles, I provide a beginner version, an intermediate version, and an advanced version. While such a log can and should be used for tracking corrective feedback and potential issues with an employee (an example is provided here), a great manager should exert a great amount of energy identifying and understanding the great behaviors that are observed on the job, and the impact the performance of the team.
So today I provide an example of how this can be done on the employee performance log – a positive example!
The Manager by Designsm blog advocates a new field, “Management Design” that encourages the creation and ongoing improvement of managers by design, rather than by accident. Today’s “designs” are usually a series of accidents and default efforts by individuals who have been put in the position to manage. Too frequently, managers are required to make up their own management practices, and these practices end up being highly variable and often result in common management mistakes and cost a lot to organizations and the economy.
One practice that rarely occurs when a manager is left to his or her own devices to develop management practices is the creation of a method for employees to provide feedback to the manager. The result is a series of default methods that managers use to get feedback on their managerial performance. This is the first in a series of blog entries on how managers receive feedback on their performance.
It is important that managers receive performance feedback on how they manage, as performance feedback provides the most immediate means for managers to change what they are doing for the better. Performance feedback can stop bad behaviors quickly, and encourage good behaviors over the long term. Because of this, the Manager by Designsm blog provides many tips on how to provide performance feedback to an employee, as this is a key skill in being a great manager.
But who provides the feedback to the manager? And who would be able to provide feedback on the effectiveness of a manager’s actions than the manager’s employees? Aren’t the employees receiving the “managerial service” from the managers to help them be more productive and be happier in their role?
However, there aren’t many channels for employees to give feedback to their manager.
In today’s discussion, we’ll explore a common way managers receive feedback on their management: The employee who leaves, also colloquially known as “voting with your feet.” How effective is this at providing feedback to a manager? Let’s see: Read more
In previous entries of this blog, I advocate for managers to use a log to track performance incidents of notes. I provide a beginner version, an intermediate version, and an advanced version. This is a log that can be kept in a simple spreadsheet, and has many benefits to help you become a better manager – namely – you can remember what was going on with various people on your team! Other benefits and a discussion of the potential drawbacks and pitfalls are found here.
In today’s post, I provide an example for how to use the performance log. First, I don’t advocate using the log for everything that goes on with each of your employees. This is too much work and likely will create a lot of noise for what would have been a useful tool. Instead, I advocate to use it only for performance issues that you want to track and have an impact if the behavior changes. The focus in this article is on negative behaviors that need to be corrected, but a performance log should also be used for positive behaviors that need to be reinforced.
Here’s the scenario:
Trevor has been observed sleeping during meetings. In some instances, meeting participants wake him up, and in other incidents they just started throwing office supplies at his head. This hasn’t happened all the time, but he has been observed nodding off in other situations, and his previous boss from a year ago has mentioned it to you, in a joking manner. People have told you that he has said that he’s stayed out too late a few times lately. Read more