Becoming a Great Manager - Qualities To Develop

Development is closely linked with manpower planning and business planning. Clear organization purpose and direction that determine what talents and skills will be needed to meet new demands of technology, marketplace, labor, government, products, growth, and management information also determine what talents and skills are needed to fill projected openings from within.

There are nine minimum criteria for a successful management development effort.

1. Active participation, support, and commitment must come from the most senior members of the management team. Effective manager development does not begin with efforts of the personnel department to convince middle managers that their people must have new skills and knowledge. The company president must get the ball rolling first by formulating and implementing plans for his own backup man and then requesting his managers to do likewise.

2. An organization needs a clear vision of what it wants to be, where it is going, and how it intends to get there. This requires managers who keep pace with constantly changing technology, marketplace, human relationships, organization, communication, information processing and control. The skills and abilities needed must be identified and then must be developed.

3. Managers responsibilities and authority must be clearly defined. When people understand how they can contribute to the success of the operation, they willingly exert themselves to accomplish goals. Since the best development is on the job, it stands to reason that the clearer the picture a man has of his job, the more he is able to contribute and reach for challenging new goals.

4. A well-defined position description which is action-oriented should suggest goals to be accomplished along with guidelines for defining quantitative performance standards. The degree of improvement or slippage in performance must be formally measured at least once a year for regular employees and twice as frequently for new employees and transferred or promoted employees. Otherwise there is little or no basis for improving performance, identifying and building on strengths, and programming to fill voids and developmental needs. It was noted earlier that most people want to improve; with accurate measurements, the way to improvement is shown.

5. Feeding back results is also necessary to effect performance improvement and encourage people to reach for and realize more challenging goals. A man behavior will not change unless he and his manager arrive at parallel conclusions as to the specific areas where improvement is needed and until the man recognizes for himself a need to change. This is the most important part of development, and it is not accomplished in the day-to-day pressures of keeping things going.

Every individual has a right to know how well he is doing, what he is expected to do differently in order to improve, and what he needs to do to assure his growth, development, and promotion. His manager, in turn, is obligated to provide this information in a constructive and positive manner to give the employee recognition and reassurance as well as help him to overcome obstacles to improvement. A management development effort is ineffective without a built-in system of formal performance appraisal.

6. Management by objectives provides the ideal means for achieving individual participation, recognition, and involvement. The behavioral research findings mentioned earlier suggest that these are necessary ingredients in its update. If a sound performance appraisal is tied in with results-oriented management, both management need for business results and individual needs for recognition, involvement, and participation are fulfilled simultaneously.

7. Communication is the lubricant which makes the gears of industry mesh effectively and continuously. Studies have demonstrated that effective managers spend up to 80 percent of their time in communication. The chief considerations in effective two-way communication with understanding include:

• The sincerity and integrity of the manager in his relationships with his men, with his peers, and with his superiors.

• What is communicated-the real issues to be resolved-including the problems, opportunities, new developments, forthcoming changes, job priorities, performance results, and areas for improvement.

• Timing of communications. If management communicates only in times of crises, a credibility gap is established which is hard to bridge. Good news and bad news must be communicated in an environment which has built-in provision for self-criticism. Loyalty

is not won two hours before a strike deadline, nor do managers go that extra mile when they first hear of a new contract by reading about it in the local newspaper.

• The example of management. Action speaks louder than words. The best public relations man cannot obtain dedication for a management which has failed its people by not keeping its promises, by giving partial or half-truths, by manipulation.

8. The manager himself is one of the four major factors in the development process. Therefore his attitude, his work habits, his objectivity, his interest in development, and his leadership style-for better or for worse--will stimulate and promote or stifle and discourage self-development.

It is the manager who must provide the conditions for development. He is like the gardener who plants the flower where it can get sunshine and rain; he does not inject fertilizer into the stem of the plant, but places it around the roots where the plant must reach out to it. Similarly, a person must be placed in a job and in an environment which provide the conditions conducive to self-development. Knowledge and opportunity must be made available to him and he must know that they are there where he can exert himself to reach out and get them with the assistance of his manager. The key, obviously, is the manager. It is he who must nurture and foster the man's development. How many of us would have attained our present positions were it not for a manager who took an interest in our development, encouraged us, gave us exposure, and made promotional and educational opportunities available to us?

9. Last but not least among the criteria for a successful management development effort is a competitive compensation program, properly administered.

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