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How the CEO Should Manage Managers

Posted by Bob Corlett on August 29, 2010

An article in Inc.com, by Darren Dahl recommends that CEOs pay more attention to managing their management team.  The key is to set clear performance expectations, and then hold the person accountable.

It sounds simple right?

But what’s the best way to do that with managers? Here are some strategies to consider:

Set the Vision -- Make sure your managers know what they're managing toward.  Consider sharing clear short-term (one year) and long-term (three to five year) business plans.

Document the Details and Communicate -- Makesure your managers have all the tools necessary to do their jobs well. Consider developing some kind of structured feedback regarding performance. You cannot over-communicate the vision, goals, and strategies for your business.

Measure Tasks -- A key part of knowing how well a manager is doing is to establish straightforward quantitative measures based on the performance of their team, says Jenni Luke, national executive director of the Step Up Women's Network, a national organization for women. Luke suggests looking at objective goals set in your business plan, such as:

  • Is your manager achieving revenue targets?
  • Are they operating on budget?
  • Have they developed new customers?

But performance targets are not enough.

Dr. Alice Waagen, founder and president of Workforce Learning, a leadership development company in Washington, DC, says you can establish clear performance guidelines about what makes a good manager, such as:

  1. A good manager creates short- and long-term goals for all staff.
  2. A good manager sets realistic standards and targets to measure progress to plan.
  3. A good manager provides specific, objective feedback on an ongoing basis, informing, enlightening and helping staff members improve their performance.

"For managers to succeed, they need time to learn to manage" Waagen says.  "And then, once they do, they need to be held accountable for their results."

In my work, I often see managers held accountable for business outcomes, but rarely do I see them evaluated on the management fundamentals that lead to peak team performance.  Dr. Waagen is definitely on to something there.

Topics: Performance Management