Managers build strong
relationships with employees
-- or being -- a good manager can make the difference between
employees being engaged with their work or simply marking time.
From administrators to academic department chairs, supervisors
are crucial to their organization's performance.
what constitutes a good manager? According to several U.Va. experts,
on the front line as well as in research, strong management includes
having a clear vision, hiring well, delegating responsibilities,
building strong relationships with employees and rewarding good
manager needs to have a clearly defined vision of the department's
purpose and should seize opportunities to communicate it to employees,
said John Lord, director of Organizational
Development and Training.
"When a manager hires, promotes, recognizes good work or
corrects bad, these are all opportunities to [convey] what really
matters, what the organization cares about."
will be better leaders if they "walk the talk," Lord
added. Employees figure out quickly if a manager's actions belie
James G. Clawson, associate professor at Darden, agreed, adding,
"A manager has a prescription from others about what he's
supposed to be doing and is herding people through it. A leader
has defined his vision and is doing everything he can to encourage
others to voluntarily participate in it."
and train with care
people who are smarter than you are," advised Cheryl Gomez,
director of utilites at Facilities Management, who oversees six
divisions, including about 90 employees. "Allow them to have
their own areas of expertise."
Lord advises having a thorough orientation and on-the-job training
for new employees, in which the manager continually reinforces
what he expects from them, including things that aren't listed
in the job description. For example, an often unstated expectation
for receptionists is to ensure that every interaction results
in customers having a positive view of the office.
good manager "discovers" people's strengths and helps
them build on these by letting them take on responsibilities,
not just tasks, Gomez said.
"For this to be successful, the manager must be able to completely
let go of the projects -- even though it' hard to give up fun
things or to keep from stepping in to help when those first steps
are being taken -- while ensuring that the employee has the skills,
resources and support to be successful."
added that when she came to U.Va. five years ago, she was swamped
with responsibilities. She realized that the nine people who report
to her could take on some of them, so she delegated some of the
"interesting and challenging" duties. She made her workload
more manageable, while enhancing that of others, she said.
grow as they take on more responsibility, as they stretch themselves,
and their comfort level increases," she said.
important for managers to create strong relationships with and
among employees, said associate professor Martin N. Davidson,
who teaches organizational behavior at Darden. "That's what
allows the unit to work effectively and productively."
should "actively create a sense of community Š making agreements,
norms and rules of behavior explicit," he said. "Try
to create trust between people. Once that's in place you can do
advantage to building trust among employees is that it helps them
to feel comfortable going to one another to tap one another's
strengths, said Gomez.
just as important for a manager to have a strong relationship
with employees when their performance is lacking, said Brad Holland,
there is problem, it should be addressed directly, though not
necessarily immediately, he said. "If you're upset, don't
meet with him right away; wait until you have cooled off."
do meet, he adds. "Often people who aren't getting along
avoid each other. Š If managers spend time developing relationships
with their employees, it makes it so much easier when they're
calling them about a problem."
someone's performance is mediocre," Gomez said, "the
tendency is to micromanage or abandon the person. Try to find
their strengths and let them know you value them. I really believe
most people want to do a good job and make a valuable contribution."
need to remember to get support for themselves, Lord said.
bring unrealistic expectations to managers, looking for the things
they didn't get from school, from their parents, their loved ones,"
"The most successful managers understand their own humanness
and recognize their own limitations. They keep things in perspective
and have a sense of humor. They forgive themselves for their mistakes,
forgive others and don't hold grudges."
his new book, Level Three Leadership: Getting Below the Surface,
James G. Clawson recommends trying to engage employees in terms
of their core values and beliefs.
"If we can't work with people at the level of their core
beliefs, as non-profit organizations always have, we get a mercenary
kind of climate and minimal effort. If you want to have a competitive
organization, you have to restructure work in a way that acknowledges
and deals with [people's values],"he said.
discerns three approaches to leadership:
Level One focuses on employee behavior; the message is: "Here
are the things you are expected to do. I don't want you to think
about it; just do it."
Level Two focuses on employee thinking, "Here's your job;
here are the outcomes I expect. What do you think is the best
way to achieve them?"
Level Three focuses on employee's core values and beliefs, "Here's
my view of what needs to be done. What are you trying to accomplish
in your life, and is there a fit between the two, so both can
resonate at work?"
Three leadership includes "an awareness and appreciation
of why people work," he said. "The challenge is to connect
the organization's dreams and employees' personal dreams."