4 Signs of a Struggling Manager

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Employers frequently find themselves unaware of struggling managers before they end up causing deep-seated issues in departments like turnover, distrust, disengagement, and under-performance. Here are 4 observable and measurable ways that you can determine whether your managers are struggling on the job before it’s too late.

1. Morale shift.

Take a look at the morale of the department and you can tell who is an effective manager and who isn’t. For example, are employees engaged or just going through the motions? Do employees seem happy? Has there been a marked shift in attitude? Do employees feel valued and appreciated? Is there a strong team atmosphere or is collaboration lacking? That’s not to say that other organizational factors may not influence morale, but a manager can strongly influence morale even in spite of these factors if they are doing their job right.

2. Level of interaction.

How often do managers interact with their employees to communicate, provide feedback, thank or praise them, and learn about them as individuals? Do you ever see managers working side by side with their employees? If one-on-one interaction does not occur at least weekly (or better yet – daily), this may be a symptom of a problem. Be wary of the manager that hides out in their office for hours at a time or spends 90% of their time in meetings as they are probably not spending enough time interacting with their employees.

3. By the numbers.

Numbers usually illuminate a struggling manager better than anything else. For example, how many individuals have gotten recognized by their manager in the past year? What do promotion and internal mobility rates look like within the department? Are employees reaching their goals? How many employees received improved performance ratings from last year? What was the average pay raise or bonus in the manager’s department or work group? How much time are employees spending on development? These are just a few of many numbers and HR metrics that can tell you which managers may be less effective than others.

4. Work systems.

The most prevalent way that you can identify who may need help with management is by taking a look at their systems or symptoms of system issues. For example, if employees are confused about expectations, directions, or work assignments; working plenty of extra hours or overtime to get their job done; or report not having the resources to get their jobs done, there’s probably a problem with the manager’s systems of managing work.  Similarly, if employees don’t seem challenged, act bored, or feel micromanaged, there’s likely an issue with the manager’s approach to delegation.

So before management problems get the best of your organization, be sure you’re observing and measuring these things to determine whether some of your managers could do their jobs more effectively.

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