What would life be like without managers? Chaos or relief?
Skeptics have often questioned the value of hiring managers. Many have actually considered converting to flat organizations. But can a flat organization with self-managed teams and individuals really thrive or even survive? After all, they say, we make bad decisions in hiring managers most of the time.
How often? Well, according to Gallup research, wrong managers are picked up to 82% of the time.
Why keep hiring them?
Let’s just Google it.
Google was founded by a pair of engineers who did not think much of managers. The flat corporate structure they created was designed to encourage close collaboration and quick concept development. Engineers cheered at having zero layers of management. Their thinking is that managers only delay development with unnecessary approval bureaucracy.
For some time, that worked out well for the online search engine firm.
But when the company began to scale, Google went on a hiring spree. The founders soon started finding themselves bombarded with too many questions from all directions about expense reports, interpersonal conflicts, and other nitty-gritty issues.
So, as the company grew, management titles evolved out of necessity. But without systems, and with ad hoc management practices, it was easy for bad workplace habits to seep into company culture, like micromanagement, conflicts, high egos…
The results: Misaligned and frustrated staff. Overwhelmed managers.
Managers DO matter
To determine whether management was, in fact, a force for good, Google data experts spent a year sifting through 10,000 data points about managers across 100+ variables.
The result? It was clear managers can be a force for elevated productivity, engagement and success for organizations.
Managers helped their teams understand company strategy and objectives. They guided teams on what priorities to focus on, which projects to own, and how to collaborate better.
They communicate and listen to drive meaningful conversations and overall engagement.
Management is a conversation
So, what makes a successful leader-manager? Here’s what Google’s research helped validate:
- Technical factors are the least important.
- Managers help their TEAM with good coaching, not micro-managing.
- They helped align their efforts to focus more on RESULTS.
- They communicate and listen to drive meaningful conversations and overall engagement.
The million $$ question
In reality, there is nothing earth-shattering about Google’s findings. The pillars of effective management have been studied and documented by management scholars, practitioners and advisors for decades. However, having the search giant prove it with data helps.
Gallup Research and other human capital search firms have also drawn a clear correlation between effective managers and employee engagement, productivity and results.
They found managers account for 70% variance in employee engagement, which currently hovers around a low 30%. And because engagement and productivity go hand in hand, the costs can be staggering. Their estimates are $450 billion in annual lost productivity in the US alone.
Creating great leader-managers
So, we know that great managers matter. We also know what qualities make them effective.
However, the main questions remain:
- How do you build and cascade good management habits throughout an organization?
- How do you sustain a lasting culture of success over time regardless of who sits at the top?
- And how do you make adoption easy for everyone involved, not just for managers?
The answers are simple:
- Create good habits through management systems that ensure accountability, dialogue, and everyone on the same page of delivering on results.
- Give them all the tools they need to make it happen – systems, skills, and authority.
- Make it part of their daily and weekly routine with the right communication touch-points and regular, timely feedback.
The results will speak for themselves – aligned efforts, focused teams, accountable execution. All will ultimately lead to a higher sense of accomplishment and most importantly, a successful organization.