How to Identify Top Middle Management Talent

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Gallup recently published The State of the American Manager 2015. According to the report, only 10% of employees possess the talent needed to be a great manager, and 90% of managers today are mediocre or sub-par! A scary statistic considering the number of middle management hires is on the rise.

Gallup estimates that these bad managers cost the US economy close to $398 billion annually — that’s lost productivity, staff turnover (after all, employees join companies, they quit managers), and decreased employee engagement.

So what should companies look for when identifying candidates for managerial roles? Exceptional performance? Longevity at the company? Maybe, but these shouldn’t be the only factors considered.

Managers with innate talent to lead have the following characteristics in common:

They develop close relationships: Although their role may not touch every part of the organization, they find a way to interact with everyone and develop relationships. Relationships indicate trust, mutual respect and strong communication, essential components of management.

They live a culture of accountability: They hold themselves and others accountable to metrics and goals. They push teammates to complete projects and they hit their deadlines. They understand that accountability translates into productivity and will do whatever it takes to complete work on time.

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They are methodical in decision-making: Office politics do not play a factor in their decision making. They look at situations from a third party perspective and weigh the benefits and consequences of each course of action. They are clear-headed and reflective, and consider the impact of the decision on everyone involved.

They are empathetic: Empathy is difficult — it’s not about feeling bad for someone, it’s about truly putting yourself in their shoes and seeking to understand what they are going through. The best leaders have empathy and realize that situations outside of work affect employees at work.

They are assertive: They are aggressive in the pursuit of their goals and their team goals, and they produce results. They are confident, yet humble, but can be direct when necessary. This serves them well when they transition into a leadership role.

They are motivational: Although they don’t yet hold a management position, they are looked at as a leader. They have the ability to rally the troops, and get people behind a cause.

They excel in their role: Although the saying is true, the best players don’t always make the best coaches, that analogy doesn’t always translate to business. An employee needs to be good at their role and understand the intricacies of the business to be an exceptional manager. They don’t necessarily have to be the top producer, but they have to perform the job, and do it well.

Gallup found that when companies identify managers based on the seven criteria above, their organizations saw 30% higher profits, 10% lower turnover and 10% higher productivity than companies that identify management based purely on tenure and job success.

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Sirmara Campbell Twohill

Sirmara Campbell Twohill
Sirmara Campbell Twohill is chief human resources officer of LaSalle Network.

Sirmara Campbell Twohill
Sirmara Campbell Twohill is chief human resources officer of LaSalle Network.

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