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  Monday, February 06, 2006

  Readings on under-management

This came in one of my email newsletters - an article questioning is the UK facing an under-management epidemic? 

I did a bit of search to trace the orinal references - “The Under-Management Epidemic” (executive summary, .doc) from Rainmaker Thinking (US-based research/consultancy/training company):

There has been so much talk about the engagement of workers: Are your employees “engaged” or not? But that’s the wrong question. The key factor affecting employee engagement is the relationship employees have with their immediate supervisors. Therefore, the question you should be asking is this: Are your MANAGERS “engaged” or not? From our ongoing research, we have become convinced that too many of those in leadership positions ----at all levels---- are disengaged from their direct reports on a day-to-day basis. Too many leaders, managers, and supervisors are failing to lead, manage and supervise. [...]

Specifically, we define under-management as a condition in which a leader with supervisory authority (“Manager”), due to influence, inclination, or circumstances, fails to provide regularly and consistently any employee directly subject to that authority (“Direct Report”) with any of the following “Five Management Basics”: (1) Clear statements of performance requirements and standard operating procedures related to recurring tasks and responsibilities. (2) Clear statements of defined parameters, measurable goals, and concrete deadlines for all work assignments for which the direct report will be held accountable. (3)Accurate monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of work performance. (4) Clear statements of specific feedback on work performance with guidance for improvement. (5) Rewards and detriments distributed fairly.

The report covers:

Proportions of under-management - "35% of managers DO NOT provide every direct report with all five management basics even once a year" (refers to the US data, see more in the report on the sample)

The impact of under-management on a manager and his/her reports

Individual causes for under-management

  • Lack of time and/or resources
  • False "nice guy" syndrome (not accepting responsibility for the authority and influence that comes with managerial position)
  • Lack of skill
  • Fear

Environmental factors that support spread of under-management - an interesting overview of how all kinds of external forces are reflected in changes of organisational structures and relations inside companies. My favourite bit:

Traditional sources of authority are being supplanted by new sources. Seniority, age, rank, and rules are diminishing. Organization charts are flatter; layers of management have been removed. Reporting relationships are more temporary; more employees are being managed by short-term project-leaders, instead of 'organization-chart' managers. Managers are losing their old fashioned long-term hierarchical power, a form of power that (once acquired) required little effort to wield.

Best practices of higly-engaged managers - I feel that this is the most interesting part of the report. Makes sense to read it whole, so just a quote:

They [highly-engaged managers] understand, accept, and even embrace the new reality that managing people has become a day-to-day negotiation.

The report is good inspirational reading if you managing others and it's definitely worth giving to those who are managing you :)


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