You don't have to earn an MBA to become a great manager.
According to Gallup's new "State of the American Manager Report," it's really all about clarity.
"Clarity of expectations is perhaps the most basic of employee needs and is vital to performance," the report says.
Helping employees understand their responsibilities may seem like “Management 101,” but employees need more than a written job description to fully grasp their role.
They need to completely comprehend what they should be doing and how their work fits in with everyone else’s work — especially when circumstances change.
Great managers don’t just tell employees what’s expected of them and leave it at that; they frequently talk with employees about their responsibilities and progress. They don’t save those critical conversations for once-a-year performance reviews.
Gallup analyzed a whopping 2.5 million manager-led teams in 195 countries for the report. This finding came from a specific study among 7,712 US adults.
The emphasis on goal clarity echoes a management truth that Silicon Valley super investor Ben Horowitz impresses upon the startup CEOs in his portfolio: among the most important tasks for an executive is to set the communication architecture for an organization.
"Absent a well-designed communication architecture," he writes, "information and ideas will stagnate and your company will degenerate into a bad place to work."
Some enterprise companies are way ahead in the clear communication game, too.
In 2012, Adobe abolished the annual performance review in favor of the regular check-in, and it had a direct impact on the organization.
Vice president of human resources Donna Morris explained to us how it works:
While the check-in process is regular and on-going, it starts at the beginning of the year, since it's tied to people having yearly expectations.
At the beginning of the year, we outline what our priorities are across Adobe. That’s done at the leadership level. For a manager, you're already in regularly scheduled one-on-one meetings. You’re taking time out of one of those meetings and having a discussion with your respective employee on what’s expected for the year.
As an employee, I would actively participate in that. Many employees are driving those discussions themselves, saying, 'Here’s what I believe I should be held accountable for this year.' That’s scene one, setting expectations.
Clearly, it's the thing to do.
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