What if we could help managers focus on select leadership behaviors singled out to improve our organization's health? That's right. Instead of roaming through the lengthy list of things that "effective" leaders do, we could tell our managers which practices would produce the best outcomes, given our organization's challenges. Wouldn't you use that information to define job expectations, craft MBOs and so on, so your HR practices metamorphosize into the strategic business practices with predictable outcomes that we all want to deliver?
It turns out that McKinsey & Company has research findings that can lead us to that level of effectiveness. While manager responsibilities are wildly complex, it turns out that analyzing their importance in relation to an organization's health provides much more practical insight.
Consider the broad categories of organizational health used in the analysis. Is your company digging out of a serious difficulty? Or, on the opposite end of the continuum, does your organization belong in the elite class of business performers that far exceed their competitors' results? Then consider the performance level in the middle of the continuum, where more organizations' performance would be classified -- moving up, but not performing at full potential.
McKinsey has isolated the manager behaviors that can transition your company from its present state to the next stronger, more effective level.
This clarity is especially valuable because organizational health shifts over time and we are constantly asking managers to adapt. As the authors point out, "Effective situational leadership adapts to these changes [in organizational circumstances] by identifying and marshaling the kinds of behavior needed to transition a company from its present state to a stronger, healthier one."
You need to read the article, study the research and so on -- nothing this important is as simple as this looks. Nonetheless, I hope the graphic gets your attention the way it got mine.
In overview, there are baseline manager behaviors that are essential in any circumstance. (Even this insight is valuable, by the way, since we typically don't recruit managers for these behaviors, but for more operational ones.) Then, there are a "staircase" of behaviors that will lift an organization from one level of organizational health to the next. "For people seeking to lead companies effectively and for organizations seeking to develop managers who can deploy different kinds of leadership behavior when appropriate, recognizing and responding to a company's health is far more important than following scripts written by or about great leaders."
Notice the insights that HR can use to help line managers deploy to achieve results. Managers who are working in an organization that is digging out of a difficult situation are going to help move things along if they streamline their priorities to focus on problem solving, fact-based decisions and the ability to roll with the punches (and learn along the way). Managers whose organizations have moved to a better, but still less than optimal performance level, will have impact when they balance a results-focus with team collaboration, speed and agility. Managers in "elite" organizations that have achieved reliably outstanding operations can impact organizational performance the most by motivating and coaching their team members.
Odds are, we in HR can have real impact on business performance by looking more deeply into these findings and using them to educate managers and executives. Alert and caution! Don't use guesswork to decide your organization's current functional level. " . . . we find that leading executives typically have more favorable views of its [the organization's] health that do its line workers -- who are, after all, much closer to the true center of gravity."
Now there's a topic that HR already has a world of data on!
Planning to dig out from serious difficulties with compensation communications? Base your 2016 strategy on the popular ebook, Everything You Do (in Compensation) Is Communication @ www.everythingiscommunication.com. Margaret O'Hanlon, CCP collaborated with Ann Bares and Dan Walter to create this DIY guide to compensation leadership. Margaret is founder and Principal of re:Think Consulting. She brings deep expertise in compensation, communications and leadership to topics like the CEO Pay Ratio and performance management discussions at the Café. Before founding re:Think Consulting, Margaret was a Principal at Willis Towers Watson.