man in miseryGallup has found that one of the most important decisions companies make is whom they name manager. Yet  analytics suggest companies usually get it wrong. In fact, Gallup finds that companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time.

Bad managers cost businesses billions of dollars each year, and having too many of them can bring down a company. The only defense against this problem is a good offense, because when companies get these decisions wrong, nothing fixes it. Businesses that get it right, however, and hire managers based on talent will thrive and gain a significant competitive advantage.

Managers account for at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores across business units, Gallup estimates.

Yet at TIGERS Success Series we know that bad managers can be transformed into good managers with the right training that targets their skills.  Recently a TIGERS licensed facilitator ran the TIGERS Team Survey in a company undergoing considerable change.  Departments that showed lack luster trust scores along with interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success were taken into counsel. Instead of tossing the manager out with the bath water, department employees identified the top three TIGERS principles that would transform their workforce operations in the department. A training plan was then designed for the manager that outlined key skills and behaviors needed to improve the department profile.

Of the two managers called into counsel only one quit. The successful manager completed a coaching program designed to improve how the manager related to and led employees.  The engagement level of the department improved remarkably as did productivity and cost savings.  In other words training the manager provided positive cost-benefit ROI.

Arrow through apple2No matter the industry, size, or location, we find executives struggling to unlock the mystery of why performance varies from one workgroup to the next. Performance metrics fluctuate widely and unnecessarily in most companies, in no small part from the lack of consistency in how people are managed. This “noise” frustrates leaders because unpredictability causes great inefficiencies in execution. It simply doesn’t have to be that way.

Executives can cut through this noise by measuring what matters most in human behavior based on Six Principles That Build High Performance Teams and Work Cultures.  Those six principles are trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk and success.

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Gallup reports that few managers have the talent to achieve excellence.  At TIGERS we know that management is a fine balance between sound performance skills and relationship skills.

According to Gallup’s research about one in 10 people possess the talent to manage. Though many people are endowed with some of the necessary traits, few have the unique combination of talent needed to help a team achieve excellence in a way that significantly improves a company’s performance. These 10%, when put in manager roles, naturally engage team members and customers, retain top performers, and sustain a culture of high productivity.

Again, this doesn’t have to be this way when TIGERS roams your hallways producing behavior and behavior expectations required from everyone.  Once employees have identified the behaviors that matter most to department and company-wide cultural behavior success, it becomes less about managers putting out relationship fires and more about steering performance and cost savings. Granted, without TIGERS Gallup’s percentage is quite true given that most fires are started by the managers themselves.

It’s important to note that another two in 10 people exhibit some characteristics of basic managerial talent and can function at a high level if their company invests in coaching and developmental plans for them. In studying managerial talent in supervisory roles compared with the general population, we find that organizations have learned how to slightly improve the odds of finding talented managers. Nearly one in five (18%) of those currently in management roles demonstrate a high level of talent for managing others, while another two in 10 show a basic talent for it. Combined, they contribute about 48% higher profit to their companies than average managers do.

That’s fairly substantial ROI.

Still, companies miss the mark on high managerial talent in 82% of their hiring decisions, which is an alarming problem for employee engagement and the development of high-performing cultures in the U.S. and worldwide. Again, we do not see this as such a high percentage when companies understand what is important to employees when it comes to leadership behavior.

For example, in one healthcare merger, empathy was important to positive patient care scores. In hiring a new anesthesiologist, the final two applicants were asked do illustrate how they had deployed empathy with patients over the last year. One applicant with the most stellar resume and who graduated from the more prestigious college was stumped. The other applicant with the less stellar resume listed example after example and actually became energized by the question.  She was hired and fit the team like a glove.

Sure, every manager can learn to engage a team somewhat. But without the raw natural talent to individualize, focus on each person’s needs and strengths, boldly review his or her team members, rally people around a cause, and execute efficient processes, the day-to-day experience will burn out both the manager and his or her team. As noted earlier, this basic inefficiency in identifying talent costs companies billions of dollars annually.

Conventional selection processes are a big contributor to inefficiency in management practices; they apply little science or research to find the right person for the managerial role.

For a recent report on where the best new employees come from click here MostEffectiveRecruitingSources 2014 Abstract

When Gallup asked U.S. managers why they believed they were hired for their current role, they commonly cited their success in a previous non-managerial role or their tenure in their company or field.

These reasons don’t take into account whether the candidate has the right talent to thrive in the role. Being a successful programmer, salesperson, or engineer, for example, is no guarantee that someone will be adept at managing others.

Therefore, good succession leadership strategies coupled with performance management planning and training remarkably improves success.

Here is a list of talents you might want to add to your performance management training and planning. Good management candidates do the following:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, interdependence, genuineness, empathy, risk resolution and success on their team by anchoring norms that support these principles.
  • They make decisions based on productivity or efficiency cost savings, not politics.

Very few people can pull off all five of these requirements of good management without superior training in advance of their hiring or promotion. Your most effective manager could be hiding from you right now in plain sight.  But if you don’t know what to look for, you simply won’t find him or her.  Nothing fixes the wrong pick.