A Team Activity that Takes Managers to the Next Level
Lousy mangers are like a rash that keeps coming back. Harter and Clifton report that spending time with their manager is the worst part of the day for employees. (Wellbeing at Work)
Great managers succeed because they know how to succeed. Results are a by-product.
Stumbling managers are so busy doing the work that they don’t work on how they do the work. Eventually they lose their legs; results dwindle, frustration increases, and negative practices take hold.
The Manager of the Year team activity:
Before they come to the meeting, ask your team to reflect on the best manager they know.
- What makes them standout?
- What are their top strengths?
- What patterns and daily practices do you observe?
- How do they interact with employees?
- How do they solve problems, delegate responsibilities, inspire team members, and practice accountability?
- How do they balance challenge and support?
- How did they practice accountability and giving feedback?
Write at least three paragraphs that explain why your manager deserves the Manager of the Year award.
You cannot include the obvious. You can’t say, they worked harder than anyone else.
Imagine advocating for someone to receive the Manager of the Year award. The pursuit of results is necessary but knowing the core skills and behaviors that produce remarkable results is genius.
Any fool can pressure people to meet goals.
Have each participant read their endorsement. (Names aren’t necessary.)
Make a list of top management skills and behaviors based on your team’s conversation.
With the Top Manager Award in mind, what’s one way you might emulate their skills or behaviors? Be specific and actionable. Working harder isn’t an answer.
What might you adapt or add to the above activity to make it more effective?
What are the skills and behaviors of the top manager in your organization?
How might you emulate one of their behaviors today?
Might work well in a large or quite granular organisation. In a small organisation, most people will only know one or two managers. Might know some others from outside work, but how well do they know them in a work context?
Thanks Mitch. I’m not sure how well we need to know someone to appreciate one of their outstanding qualities/skills. However, in my experience, it helps to have personal contact.
I would hope that we all know some successful managers.
The other thing I didn’t want to do is have this activity focus on the people around the table, but there is value in doing that as well.
I initially read this and thought that it was “Build the Manager of the Year”. Answering the questions, what are the attributes and skills you might see in the Manager of the Year. I think that might even address the concern of small organization or few managers.
Thanks Kris. Yes, it’s an imaginary exercise to help teams talk about the qualities/skills that produce success. Incompetent managers just set goals. Competent managers know how to reach them. What are those managers like?
A great practice is to engage in is 360 feedback surveys from those whom you lead. If you want others to get better at what they do, lead by example and get better at what you do. This builds trust and demonstrates that you care about your craft. Do as I say, or Do as I do – who would you rather follow?
Thanks Joseph. In this context a 360 might be designed to expose and explore what managers are doing well. By doing well, I mean behaviors that produce results in ways that produce good will.
Dan, could this backfire if the majority of the group expressed valuing things like taking on the work of their staff, providing detailed technical expertise on projects, and responding to emails at all hours of the day? Thanks for this post!
Thanks Hannah. For sure. This might go sideways if people make the wrong assumptions about success. I suppose it could go sideways in cultures where people are abused and over-work is expected.
I wonder if the activity should include some aspect of sustainability to protect against things like responding to emails at all hours of the day.
Having said the above, regardless of how people respond, a follow up might be helpful. “What causes you to say that?”
In addition, some training on the qualities/behaviors of successful managers might be helpful after the activity. You might say, “Let’s take a look at the research on successful managers to see what we can learn.”
Thanks again. I appreciate your question. It is very helpful.
I see individuals being disciplined with their actions keeping their cool in tough moments compared to those who speak out in anger and live to regret their actions. Knowing when to speak when to listen. Typically these individuals don’t get rattled, they carry themselves as if they know their path, compared to those who ramble and beat around the bush so to speak. Often times they are their in the position because they know how the system works and how to tweak it. They can get the most out of everyone with respect and treating others with dignity. I respond to emails even if my day is over, shows clients they are important and we can be attentive to their needs. I also agree their is time to turn things off too, and start fresh the next day. I like the priority approach for determining who, what, when and how.