Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle?
Originally coined by Laurence J. Peter in his humorous 1969 book The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong, the theory is this:
People will tend to be promoted until they reach their position of incompetence.
I’m a big believer that the Peter Principle is alive and well (and thriving)–at least to some degree–in most organizations today. "You’re a great car salesman? Well, we’ll reward you for that by…making you the manager!" (The assumption being that any idiot can manage because being a manager/leader requires NO SPECIAL SKILLS.) It’s like the surgeon saying to the nurse, “You know what? You're such a great nurse, starting tomorrow you will now be the surgeon.” And who pays for this nonsense? We all do: employee morale suffers, productivity and quality is compromised, customer service takes a nosedive and managers themselves go home each night frustrated and unfulfilled.
So what's the antidote? At NCI we believe it's supplying managers with a toolbelt of research-based management skills. Through our Leadership Development Training workshops we equip managers and work groups with 15 tried-and-true skills that help create a more healthy and effective way of managing and decision-making:
The Top 15 Management Skills
- Show caring and respect.
People know you see them as people, not just employees. This includes a whole set of "adaptive" skills that not every adult naturally possesses.
- Advocate for your employees and for the team.
You stand up for your group–you go to bat for them. At the same, however, you don't badmouth your company to your employees.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Information is distributed effectively–people know what's going on. This includes great meetings, effective one-on-one conversations and more.
- Involve others in decision-making (i.e. be collaborative).
Ask for people's opinions, ideas, suggestions...and actually listen to them. (See our previous post on "Participatory Decision-Making")
- Be fair and equitable.
People are given equal respect, opportunity and understanding. Remember: The perception of favoritism is as bad as actual favoritism. Learn how to avoid both.
- Give people autonomy and trust.
Learn to walk that fine line between lack of appropriate involvement and micromanagement. (See how to be a "Macro-Manager.")
- Ask for–and be open to–feedback.
The skill of receiving feedback non-defensively is definitely not a skill that every adult possess. There are 5 simple steps.
- Deal with issues. Fix problems.
Be an action-oriented manager. Don't let employees' concerns go into the "black hole of management."
- Be responsive.
Respond to e-mails, answer questions, return calls. Within 24 hours, at the outside.
- Give recognition and thanks.
Don't be the "Honey, I told you I loved you when I married you – I'll let you know if I change my mind" type of manager. Learn how to get this important skill on your radar.
- Provide accountability.
Address inappropriate behaviors effectively. Don't nag, don't hope for "learning by osmosis," don't ignore problems. (What you allow, you teach.) Learn how to be effective in actually coaching employees toward improved behaviors.
- Be accessible and available.
Not 24/7, of course. Learn effective one-on-one meetings, MBWA (Management By Walking Around) and more.
- Follow through and follow up. Do what you say you're going to do, get back to people with information, check in regarding progress, be consistent. (I realize this isn't always easy!)
- Make your expectations clear.
Use proactive group and individual communication to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Provide resources and training.
Yup. Do it.
When managers consistently engage in these research-based "big bang for the buck" management practices, employee groups (and individuals) experience high morale – and then everyone wins. And we can help you learn how.