Back to Management Basics


What jumps out at me, after my many years of consulting, is the number of companies, both big and small, that still find difficulty with the basic “Management 101” stuff that’s so vital for employee performance and productivity. Four areas, in particular, come to mind with some questions to ask yourself when addressing each issue. While you may have seen some of these points before, as far as I’m concerned, they never get old.

  1. The failure of managers to set clear goals and hold their direct reports accountable:
    • Are there clear goals, as well as action items to support those goals?
    • Are expectations clearly communicated and, most importantly, understood?
    • Are there regular meetings with direct reports to review progress against plans, modifying them where necessary?
    • Is there ongoing coaching and feedback to ensure effective execution (never enough time for this)?
  2. The disinclination or inability of managers to address problems:
    • Do managers fail to address poor performance (negative message to other team members)?
    • Do you hear the usual excuses – can’t afford to lose him, we’re in a huge crunch, I don’t want to upset her, difficult to replace….? And, of course, it’s awkward and unpleasant and managers often don’t have the tools, don’t know how to give the negative feedback in a constructive way.
    • Do conflicts between team members get resolved?
    • When departments don’t cooperate (sloppy or delayed handoffs, failure to observe deadlines, adversarial or non-cooperative attitudes), do the department heads sensibly resolve the issues and ensure their direct reports get the messages?
  3. Need for Managing Up:
    • With leaders, senior managers and middle managers tied up with meetings (frequently too many), travel, their own projects, endless streams of email, etc., do they encourage their direct reports to manage up?
    • Are direct reports encouraged to keep their managers apprised, share their problems and to be open and honest?
    • Is there a clear message that if direct reports need guidance, coaching, technical support, problem solving, or whatever else is needed, they should ask for it!
    • Do managers empower team members to be proactive, show initiative and not wait to be told?
    • Is the environment conducive to ask why – to question established procedures or thinking?
  4. Communication:
    • Is sufficient effort made to keep employees regularly informed about company performance, issues, impact of changes in the market place, policy changes, etc. with internal newsletters, memos, town halls, notice boards, intranet?
    • Following leadership team meetings, do members of the leadership team communicate relevant decisions to their direct reports?
    • Does your CEO hold informal “coffee with the CEO” for small groups of employees to keep in touch and learn what they’re thinking?
    • Do your employee engagement surveys provide opportunity for feedback on communication issues?

There are many more illustrations of basics that are commonly neglected. If any of the above feel close to home, call me and let’s discuss. I’d be happy to share insights and experience.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s