The goal of an effective manager is to produce excellent results without a lot of effort. This idea is simple to grasp in theory but is poorly executed by most firms. There are two common scenarios that tend to exist in recruiting firms, both of which prove ineffective over time.
Scenario one: The soft manager- In this scenario the manager is liked by the recruiters but does not produce strong results. Expectations are not clear, consequences are not enforced, and the manager is not respected.
Scenario two: The hard manager- In this scenario the manager may produce good results but he or she is not liked by the team. Therefore morale is low, turnover is high and management is seen by the staff as the enemy.
The best management strategy is one that takes the best parts of the hard and soft manager and combines them into one system. This produces an environment where employees respect the manager and also have a friendly relationship with him or her. To have this type of environment requires a mind shift in the way you view your staff and your role as a leader.
The “Leave alone/ zap” management method:
In most companies if you ask the employees, “How do you know if you’re doing a good job?” they will respond by saying that as long as they’re not being chewed out by their boss, they’re doing a good job. The authors of the One Minute Manager call this the “leave alone/zap” method of management. What this means is that when you do well, you hear nothing and when you do poorly, you get “zapped” or scolded. This management tends to produce tension and resentment within the company.
A key thing to remember when thinking about your management strategy is this: recruiters who feel confident and good about themselves produce better results. They need to know when they’ve done something right or even approximately right in order to have a strong sense of confidence. They must know what good behavior looks like which means that performance standards must be clear. Often times management and the employees disagree on what’s expected. Neither side has made sure that the other knows what is expected. Misunderstanding and poor communication leads to a tremendous amount of discord, blame and spotty performance.
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If your management strategy includes the following three things, you’re well on your way to better performance:
1. Establish clear goals: What does average performance look like? What about above average? What about below average? You must define and get agreement on these standards in advance in order to have an effective and fair management strategy.
2. Establish clear rewards: What benefit do your employees get by performing well? Are they constantly being reinforced for the little things that they do correctly? Rewards need to be timely and consistent in order to produce positive results.
3. Establish clear consequences: What consequence is there for poor performance? What happens if someone performs poorly for several months? Consequences also need to be timely and consistent in order to produce strong results.
You as a manager will not need to spend a lot of time with your staff if you can master the three simple techniques listed above. The idea is to make the rules the bad guy and you as the manager the good guy who’s cheering them on to better performance. The rewards and consequences are clear so the use of threats, guilt and nagging are irrelevant. Your job changes from that of a nag to that of a supportive but firm coach. This strategy is aligned with the axiom, “goals begin behaviors, and consequences maintain behaviors”. I will write more about the three techniques above in a future Fordyce article.