What does the structure look like in your organization? For the longest time we have had the collective assumption inside of our organizations that executives and managers sit at the very top of the organizational pyramid and everyone else sits below them. Those at the top typically have all the power and all the information, and everyone below them simply does what they are told. In this type of organization the managers and the executives are the supreme rulers, and everyone else is just there to do their job. This assumption was well justified because the entire field of management and the existence of managers was created to enforce the status quo. The whole point of management and managers was to make sure that people fell in line.
Thankfully this way of thinking is being challenged at every company I have come across, and for good reason. Senior leaders play a big role in shaping and designing employee experiences, so in organizations where managers act like rulers and dictators, the employee experience suffers tremendously. According to Gallup, managers account for a 70% variance in employee engagement (which is the outcome of employee experience). There are a number of things that contribute to employee experience, but a lot of it comes back to having good managers.
Instead, managers and executives must see themselves not at the top of the proverbial company pyramid, where everyone climbs to them, but at the bottom of the pyramid, where they push everyone else up. I’m a firm believer that one of the measures of success for managers should be how many people and how often they help make other people more successful than themselves. At Google, being a good coach is the number one behavior that makes a great manager. I should also point out that Google discovered this after doing extensive surveys, exit interviews, performance and satisfaction data, and turnover. Then they ran several internal tests and experiments. People want to be managed by someone who guides them and lifts them up.
When you hire a trainer at the gym, his or her responsibility is to help get you in shape. Trainers give you meal plans and workouts, check in with you on the phone, encourage you, and push you to achieve your goals. They also get to know you as an individual and customize training programs that meet your needs. In other words, their job is to help make you successful, and their job isn’t done until you make progress and reach your goals. Managers are the modern-day organizational fitness trainers.
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Chances are you’ve heard the saying that employees don’t leave organizations or jobs, they leave managers. One of the best ways to keep that from happening is by embracing the coach and mentor mentality. Help employees succeed—if you can, help them become more successful than you! When Facebook did an internal study to find which behaviors the best managers exhibit, caring about team members was number one on the list.
When managers act as coaches and mentors, it shows that they are invested in the success of their employees and shows executives that the right managers are in place. Not all good managers naturally think of themselves as mentors, so provide training and help them become stronger coaches. You can even explore the success rate of the people whom managers oversee to determine which managers help others succeed the most.
When managers and executives are involved in the lives of their employees and think of themselves more as coaches than dictators, employees grow and develop into better workers, and the entire organization benefits and moves forward.
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