Slowly but surely, we’re progressing from the days when years of service or tenure in a position served as proof of an employee’s value to an organisation. Those were the days when clocking your hours, coming in early and leaving late proved you were the ultimate team player, willing to sacrifice for the cause. Fast forward to the present when proficiency is measured by analytics that show an individual’s actual contribution to the company’s bottom line. To be able to effectively gauge a team member’s net worth means creating objective measurement tools, essentially a system of evaluation or appraisal. This is where the human resources (HR) professional leads the transition from promotions and recognition going to the boss’ pet or office favourite, to the most deserving employee.
Danger! Don’t exclude formal assessment
The practice of using subjective and personal metrics to promote team members does continue in many smaller organisations, as the CEOs may not have the benefit of a human resource manager to support the formal alternative. However, they are realising that they exclude formal evaluation procedures at their own peril. Impulsive or personal decisions often have a way of backfiring when the person is not the right fit for an elevated position. Much like the succession planning paradigm we discussed in the previous article, managing up (or out) requires careful planning and execution over a period of time. The principle of hiring slow and firing fast also applies here, in the sense that we deliberate and assess carefully before selecting the next leader in the organisation value chain. Note though, that the opposite applies to managing out team members who no longer add value to the company. To be clear, that could simply be due to them having aspirations that your firm no longer satisfies. So a mutually beneficial separation may just be ideal.
Manager or Leader
Many senior management personnel still don’t fully appreciate the difference between managing and leading. Some confuse passive aggressive behaviour for being firm or decisive. The unfortunate reality is that often these managers mean well but can’t differentiate between telling and showing; giving someone a fish or teaching them how to snag those elusive water dwellers. Ok, enough with the analogies. The point is this: for any blue chip organisation intent on hiring and keeping the best and brightest in their ranks, they must develop systems to track and train not just the obvious leadership candidates, but everyone in the company must be able to see a path to upward mobility to create a truly level playing field. To do this, leaders must start in the mirror by assessing their management and interpersonal relationship styles and critically gauge if they, themselves, are part of the problem. Thereafter, by taking responsibility for their role in the process, they can more authentically engage their peers and charges in meaningful conversation towards determining the best prospects for leadership positions, and quite honestly, which employees have run their course in the new and improved version of the company. Failure to have this ‘Kum ba yah’ moment may eventually lead to managers themselves being managed out of the organisation.
Until next time, leaders keep lookin’ up!