The ideal manager revealed
Engaging managers are made, not born, as
they learn from their own and others’ mistakes and modify their behaviours
accordingly, claims a new report.
Great managers are performance-focused and ready to
tackle poor and challenging behaviour to effectively engage their teams.
However, they still need to show honesty and openness when breaking bad news to
be appreciated by their teams and their own managers.
These are some of the findings of new research
undertaken by the Institute for Employment Studies. ‘The Engaging Manager’
paints a picture of the ideal manager, and builds on previous IES research that
proved the critical role line managers have in employee engagement. It was
carried out through interviews and focus groups with managers.
The research focused on behaviours as these can be learnt and unlearnt, and
provides HR departments with useful information to help create the right
environment for managers to do this. Researchers discovered that engaging
managers learn through observing others and through self-reflection. They tend
not to have a single role model, but adopt the ‘good’ parts of others’
behaviour and discard the ‘bad’.
Dilys Robinson, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment
Studies and one of the report’s authors, comments: “The excellent and engaging
managers we spoke to have very varied jobs, different spans of control and
seniority. But one thing they have in common is how very focused they are on
performance. They all manage teams that are known to be high performing within
their organisations, which underlines how important engagement is in difficult
“We asked team members to draw pictures of how they see their managers.
Interestingly, several people drew smiling devils, indicating that not all
engaging managers toe the company line. The most popular picture of all was of
a sun or a smiling face. “The drawings gave us insight into engaging managers’
characteristics. The teams value their managers’ strategic vision, interest in
them as individuals and fostering of positive team culture. Our engaging
managers are challenging and approachable, and have good skills in
communicating and listening. Their teams also expect them to be
honest and development focused. But engaging
behaviours can be learnt and that’s good news for aspiring managers.”