It’s appraisal season, and it’s perhaps apt for leaders to introspect on their role as mentor and coach to the people on their teams. A common complaint from employees is that their managers aren’t really aware of what they do every day and how they contribute. This feeling may not be far off the mark. Data from the US-based analytics and advisory firm Gallup finds that only 34% of employees say their managers are aware of what project or tasks they are doing. And only 26% believe that their managers’ feedback helps them improve in their work. Gallup has drawn on it’s six decades of workplace data, and its chief executive officer Jim Clifton and chief scientist Jim Harter have put together their findings in a new book It’s the Manager.
While the insights are based on research done in the US, there are lessons for Indian managers too as the observations cover strategy, culture, employment brand, coaching, and the future of work. Here are some of the insights they have drawn:
Performance development and creating coaches
Gallup’s research shows four ways to improve performance at the workplace. First, for an engaged workforce, managers should give employees a say in goal setting. Employees who get to do this are four times more likely to be engaged. However, a mere 30% of the employees have access to this.
Second, offering daily or weekly feedback, which is meaningful, as opposed to once a year can help quite a bit in increasing employee engagement.
Third, while annual review systems are undergoing revision, managers should have progress reviews at least twice a year, where the focus is on employee’s purpose, goals, metrics, development, strategy, team contribution and personal life. Also, these should be evaluated based on individual’s achievement and growth.
Lastly, when reviewing performance, managers should pay attention to the employee’s individual growth.
So, what should a leader do to be more effective? Throwing out the annual performance review for more frequent feedback is not sufficient. The authors suggest leaders prepare managers to don the role of a coach. For this, the mangers’ roles and expectations need to be redefined, and tools and resources needed by managers to meet these expectations need to be provided. It’s important to create evaluation practices by which managers can accurately measure performance, hold employees accountable and coach them.
What we know as the workplace is constantly changing. And with this constant change, employee engagement is something leaders are putting lot of thought into. Gallup data indicates, “highly matrixed organizational settings, collaboration among employees is higher than in non-matrixed settings but expectations are not as clear”. What’s required, the authors suggest, is team heads regularly informing teams about the changes the clients may require.
Then there are remote work settings, which many organizations have welcomed and fared better managing. However, remote workers could quit if they feel isolated from colleagues and managers. In fact, remote workers do run the risk of losing out of opportunities to collaborate and receive recognition.
Being connected to work after work hours
Whether you are full time, part time or remote working employee, having to check on your work via smartphones is now a given.
In its study Gallup found that over three fourths of full-time employees perceived this (checking work emails even in non-working hours) positively, despite nearly half of them saying it results in a lot of stress the day before. The stress, however, would be considerably less “if the employee has the right manager who understands their situation, sets clear expectations, coaches them and creates accountability”.
Gender gap and pay parity
Employee mindset has become indifferent to the gender of their boss. According to Gallup’s study, American employees preferred bosses who were men about 30 years ago. Today, employees find “virtually no difference” and don’t have gender preference for a boss.
Yet, only 32 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies comprise women, despite 45% of women showing interest in taking on the top job or are in senior management or leadership positions.