Transferable management skills every team leader should have – Piers Bishop, Performance Review Pro
Industry: Human Resources
Learn the essential management skills every leader or manager should have and how only 3% of business believe their review process adds value (Mercer).
United Kingdom (PRUnderground) March 10th, 2014
I don’t get over-excited about articles that begin with something like ‘Seven vital rules …’ because life is more complex than that, and people who begin with such certainty usually end up being humbled by something along the way. Take the ‘parenting expert’ who became well known for lecturing parents on ‘Twenty hard and fast rules for bringing up children’ – but then had kids. Five years later it was ‘Ten general principles for bringing up children’ and ten years after that it was ‘One or two tentative suggestions you might find useful’. Anyway, in a recent Linkedin article the entrepreneur James Caan suggested that there are four key transferable management skills every leader should have: influence communication, empathy and conviction.
I’m not sure those are all really skills – influence, empathy and conviction look more like personal characteristics that are part inherited and part developed. So new managers have a certain amount of ‘influence’ in their personality and become more influential as they grow in experience and confidence. Same for communication and conviction, assuming the last to be a useful skill rather than a trap. However, Caan’s point about empathy is spot-on – soft management skills should never be underestimated: “The very best managers are the ones who are psychologically tuned in to all of their staff. Get that right and half the battle is already won”, he says.
Unfortunately, that brings us to another problem: of the four management skills (or characteristics) Caan mentions, empathy is the hardest to develop – and some people never manage it. So if Caan’s right and being ‘tuned in’ to the staff is half the battle, how are the more inexperienced managers, and/or those with less natural empathy, going to cope? It gets worse if they are responsible for the annual review process, because they’ll probably miss the real issues and add to staff’s feelings that the company doesn’t really connect with them or care about them.
Whether it’s down to missing empathy or not, annual reviews and appraisals don’t seem to work terribly well – a study by Mercer group found just 3% of companies believed their review process provides real value. The Wall St Journal went to town on the subject with a piece entitled “Yes, everyone really does hate performance reviews“, and there does seem to be growing pressure for change. But what would you replace them with? Despite the near-universal dislike of these rituals, companies will still want to do something to track the progress of their staff, so even if annual reviews went out of the window by statute tomorrow morning they’d have to be replaced by something that fulfilled the same function under a different name.
All would be well – or at least a great deal better – if someone came up with a system that fills in the gaps in the annual review process. It would have to be quite clever, because it would have to be able to look ‘under the hood’ of the team and pull out the real issues – things that are getting in the way of their performance and preventing them learning, developing and growing their position in the firm. If it could do that, then prioritise the issues and present them as a list of action points for managers to sit down and hold a meaningful discussion about the things that really matter, it would transform your team leaders management skills and the way they interact to improve staff capability.
That’s what Performance Review Pro does – see the customer feedback on how well it works. But ‘he who tastes, knows’, as they say, so the best way to find out how we can help your business is to try us, free of charge, and find out. Feed your team’s results into your annual review process and your big people-management event of the year will suddenly be working on the issues that really matter. Use it more regularly as a way of guiding management interaction – and incidentally measuring management effectiveness – and improvements will come even quicker because the feedback loop is shorter.
It is absurd that the single most common way of managing employee performance is considered so useless by companies that continue to invest vast sums of time and money in it. But the key to changing this is simply to bring the right information into the room to make the discussions meaningful – Performance Review Pro will do this for you!
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