I read a great post in HBR, If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material. It’s a fantastic article, definitely a must read for managers and non-managers alike.
The job of the manager is to get things done through people! The best managers focus on maximizing the performance of each individual and of their teams–both in their current roles and developing them to grow and contribute further.
This means finding and recruiting the right people, assuring they have the strategies, processes, program, systems, tools, support, and training necessary for success. It means setting clear goals and expectations for performance and continually coaching them to maximizes their productivity and impact. It means developing them, helping them grow, so they can contribute even more, either in their current roles or in developing them to take greater responsibility. It means establishing an environment of continuous learning and continuous improvement.
These are the areas that management should be spending most of their time on.
Yet, when I work with managers and executives, too often, their time is spent on other things. Endless reporting, endless internal meetings—not about the things needed to develop their people to perform at the highest levels possible, but all sorts of other things. The data about time spent coaching is abysmal. Manager’s abilities to coach are poorly developed. Results on performance planning and performance management, training and development, all seem to be headed in the wrong direction. If 67% of sales people aren’t making their numbers, something’s wrong!
It’s critical for managers, all the way up the food chain, to reassess how they spend their time. Again, the only way managers achieve their goals is through their people. So the highest leverage use of manager time is in coaching and developing their people.
In fairness, this is an issue that goes all the way up the management hierarchy. From the very top of the organization, leadership has to establish a culture focused on their people. Coaching, developing, working with people to achieve their highest potential–both in their current and future roles is critical.
Top leaders need to set the example in coaching and developing their direct reports. In turn these leaders must do the same with their direct reports, cascading down to the first line managers. Managers at all levels must be trained, coached and developed in these areas.
Managers, at all levels, need to be held accountable and measured on doing this.
As the HBR article states, if managers don’t do this, they don’t deserve to be managers. If they don’t do this, they aren’t serving their own organizations—there is no way the organization can achieve its goals or grow. If they don’t do this, they aren’t serving their people, maximizing their performance. If they don’t do this, what are they doing?