Managers play an incredibly important role in the lives of employees at work, in how much the employee feels positively about their workplace, and, in how effectively a business culture of agility can be realized. While Management is not the only factor, Gallup found that as much as 70% of the variance in the employee engagement of teams can be traced back to the influence of the manager - through the manager's engagement, behaviors as observed by team members, and the natural wiring of managers.
While researching which factors created an optimal environment in which employees feel engaged and an organization could be agile, Management was one of the 14 critical success factors that we found. Managers can play an essential role in enabling a culture of learning, experimentation and continuous delivery, where people strive to excel as a team, to deliver the business outcomes, and provide a meaningful customer experience.
During our research, we came across some interesting stories about Management. Here are some of our findings on the best and worst traits that participants told us about and how they can impact an organization's level of agility.
The Worst Offenders
THE GUILT TRIPPER
This Manager makes you feel guilty if you bring up any thoughts about leaving. They focus on themselves and the "what about me" argument. What will they do without you? How can you go or how can you leave them? This works against business agility as it can dampen an employee's natural drive and growth, making them less likely to be open to opportunities around the organization.
THE DEBT COLLECTOR
You owe me - the feeling that this kind of Manager makes you feel. They gave you a job, an opportunity, a promotion, and now you owe them your first child and very soul - in their warped little head. This type of emotion can severely disable the type of trust and connection between an employee and their manager that business agility needs.
THE CONFIDENCE KILLER
These are the ones that simply drain your confidence and make you feel like you cannot be successful without them. This type of mindset in an employee can be incredibly debilitating. It can stop employees from taking action, taking risks and can dampen their belief in themselves, which in turn affects their ability to be creative, share ideas and achieve more.
The Super Stars
Ah, the manager that focuses on developing you as an individual. That understands you and knows you. They are so great because they actually care about the development of their people, even if it means their people are better than them - in fact, they are happy for them to be! Just like those amazing teachers you would find that simply knew how to focus on each and every child in just the right way to nurture their growth. These managers excel at developing their employees to spread their wings and be the best they can be. This is imperative to the growth, environment of trust, and the quest for excellence that business agility requires.
THE POLITICAL NAVIGATOR
These ones are handy indeed. They are marvels at navigating the political landscape - and you can learn a lot from them. The best part is that they provide you air cover and are a buffer so that you can concentrate on what you need to do and not get caught up in all the shenanigans that are going on in the waters above. They tend to have an understanding of the natural complexity of environments, alliances and the dynamics that exist for exactly what they are - a means to achieving what needs to be done. This trait allows them to remove impediments for their employees so that they can focus their energy and time on what needs to get done to achieve the desired business outcome.
The enabler has one very core trait - they believe that they should help you move on when your development is elsewhere. They do not try and keep you; in fact, they try and help you to move on to greater things that will help you to develop even more. While they may miss you, the Enabler puts their feelings aside and are genuinely happy in seeing great people succeed. They also tend to know how to manage you. They give you the right amount of slack, or level of guidance so that you know what you need to do, and are enabled to achieve it by being set up for success. These characteristics support an environment where there is flexibility in type of work, individual development, and trust in employees to take the necessary course.
The Changing Role of Management and the Need for Organizational Support
Business and organizational agility have become a determining factor of success given the environment of change and disruption that we live in. An agile organization embraces change by moving quickly, decisively and effectively to anticipate, initiate and take advantage of change, yet remains robust enough to absorb any setbacks.
Managers play a large role in enabling organizational agility, along with several other factors that drive such an environment. As such, the role of management is changing and successful organizations are turning to a mindset of growth.
It is clear that not all managers today are best equipped with the skills and mindset needed to enable an environment of agility within their company. Many will need to take a fresh perspective and perhaps even learn to understand how to leverage their managerial experience with a different lens. Most importantly, it is imperative to recognize that managers cannot necessarily do this alone. Organizations need to actively support managers to develop and grow these traits and behaviors by creating an environment in which they are enabled to think and act this way.
Often a manager may want to drive agility, but without the supporting processes, infrastructure, and organizational capabilities they can be stifled. Our Index highlighted several other factors that, together, create the right setting for agility. This ranged from workplaces and technologies to individual capabilities, metrics, trust, and structure.
We identified 4 core drivers covering over 70 attributes that create an environment where workplace agility can be enabled:
Connectedness - The enablement of driving connections between people, their individual purpose, and the organization.
Innovation - The enablement of an environment where ideas can thrive and diverse perspectives can connect.
Execution - The enablement of the abilities, process and supporting environment to drive response, action, and decision.
Mobility - The enablement of the fluidity in place and type of work to support the desired individual and business goals.
Managers play a large role in driving each of these areas as part of an organization's journey to business agility. So be sure to ask yourself, is your organization supporting and enabling its managers to be enablers themselves?
At EffectUX we help our clients discover the exact factors and attributes that enable the successful achievement of their vision, across their business, their customers, their users and the employees that work to deliver the experience.