Book Insights: The Effective Manager

Busy managers have two key responsibilities: achieving results and retaining their employees. Both of these can be achieved by taking a comprehensive approach to ongoing performance management, incorporating elements like OKR goals and continuous, two-way feedback into your strategy. To effectively achieve results and retain your direct reports, there are four main tactics you need to practice, according to The Effective Manager by Mark Horstman. The key learnings shared throughout the book live up to its title, and we definitely recommend any manager or CEO takes a look at the full version for some valuable insights. Below, we share a few of our own most noteworthy takeaways and interpretations.

Get to Know Each of Your Direct Reports

The only way to build trust is by having frequent conversations with employees. One-on-one meetings should be held regularly to have insightful discussions about goals, progress, and work-related matters. (In other words, this doesn’t refer to light chit-chat.) Of the four tactics listed here, a manager’s ability to get to know their direct reports accounts for roughly 40% of how well they accomplish results and retain teams, according to the author.

One-on-one meetings must be held weekly – no exceptions – scheduled, and focused specifically on the direct report’s goals. They should also be used to discuss performance, which brings us to our next point.

Discuss Performance Regularly

Performance improves when managers are providing clear, actionable feedback to their teams. It must be done frequently – it’s not a one-and-done activity – and promptly in order to be effective. Feedback accounts for 30% of manager effectiveness.

To give feedback effectively, use the Manager Tools feedback model:

  • Ask if it’s okay with the direct report to share feedback (e.g., “Can I share some feedback with you?”).
  • State the behavior that needs to change, using precise language.
  • Explain the impact of that behavior.
  • Encourage new, more effective behavior moving for ward.

With the need for an ongoing, two-way feedback loop to be maintained, many managers are implementing tools like pulse apps. These innovative tools allow managers to deliver prompt, actionable feedback to directly to their teams promptly and efficiently. When coupled with one-on-one meetings, pulse apps increase productivity and performance, while also keeping managers informed about what’s going on in the organization.

Ask for More Through Coaching

Managers must consistently push their teams to new levels by raising expectations. Asking for more can help instill a healthy sense of competition and drive organizations towards better results. This behavior accounts for 15% of manager effectiveness. Ask for more by collaboratively setting Objectives using the OKR goal setting method, which also helps employees identify exactly what they need to do to achieve ambitious outcomes.

Push Work Down by Delegating

Lastly, managers can become more effective in their roles by delegating responsibly. While new and high-profile responsibilities can be owned by managers, others should be passed down to direct reports to instill a sense of trust and create growth by allowing more important work to be conducted at higher levels. This makes up the remaining 15% of effectiveness.

Managers should pair responsibilities with direct reports strategically, delegating based on what teams are good at, what they enjoy doing, what they need to learn how to do, and what they want to do more of. Writing reports, running meetings, heading projects, and doing presentations are all good examples of work that can be delegated. After determining what should be delegated, managers can then implement the five-step delegation process:

  1. Express a need for help.
  2. Tell the direct report why you’ve chosen them – i.e., “You have strong presentation skills.”
  3. Ask if they’d be willing to help before sharing details.
  4. Then, describe the responsibility in detail.
  5. Explain what’s expected in terms of turnaround time, quality, and any other standards you may have.

While one-on-ones and pulse surveys are two tools that are useful for getting to know direct reports and maintaining a feedback loop, they can actually be used to support all of the tactics listed above. Having these communication channels in place helps managers delegate with greater ease and become a more effective coach, both of which contribute to helping them achieve results and retain employees.

What else? What are some additional insights you gathered from The Effective Manager?

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

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