Without Management Standards Your Company Doesn't Know What It's Doing

Businesses need a concrete set of expectations to which every manager is held accountable.

learn more about Jeff Fernandez

By Jeff Fernandez

Caiaimage | Tom Merton | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's an old saying in business: If you can't measure it, you can't improve it. When it comes to improving the effectiveness of an organization's managers, many companies struggle to distinguish the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, how do you objectively assess a manager's ability to "get to know their people" or "have difficult conversations?" These are big concepts that don't lend themselves to convenient metrics, but they're essential to effective management.

A universal and urgent challenge.

It doesn't matter how big or small your organization is, what industry you're in or at what stage of growth. The difficulty of assessing manager competence is universal. According to recent data from Wakefield Research and Grovo, 84 percent of middle managers believe their company needs a better way to evaluate manager ability.

Related: Want to Inspire Your Employees? Get Some Sleep.

This is especially relevant in today's talent-centric economy. As the health of our organizations becomes increasingly dependent on the engagement of our workforce, it's clear we need more reliable ways to assess how managers impact the day-to-day working conditions of our people.

The problem with employee surveys.

That's not to say companies aren't trying to address the problem. It's common practice to collect qualitative data on a manager's performance by surveying their direct reports. While this is helpful, the feedback is too subjective to reliably compare one manager's performance with his or her fellow managers at scale.

Plus, while most organizations give managers training or learning resources that provide general guidance, it's impossible to tell which techniques and tactics each manager is actually using on the job -- and how well.

Bad management, big price tag.

With no clear benchmark for what constitutes good management, an organization leaves itself vulnerable to bad managers rising in the ranks. Of the managers we surveyed, 76 percent believe ineffective managers in their organization are frequently rewarded or promoted.

Related: Are You a Terrible Boss? These 4 Stuble Signs Will Tell You.

You might be thinking yes, but are they making the company money with their decisions? Maybe. But at what cost? Half of employees who quit their jobs leave because of a bad boss, according to Gallup. As the job market rebounds and top talent enjoys greater opportunity, we need a better way to ensure our managers are performing at a baseline level across the board.

To raise the standard, set the standard.

One simple, powerful way to immediately elevate the quality and consistency of management performance throughout your organization is to create a set of management standards -- a concrete set of expectations to which every manager is held accountable.

In the same way that brand standards dictate a color palette to a designer, or coding standards dictate naming conventions to an engineer, management standards take guesswork out of the equation, informing every manager at the organization what to do, and when.

These standards codify behaviors around key manager responsibilities like one-on-one meetings, onboarding new staff, and communication of team goals. For example, committing time to weekly 1:1 meetings, providing consistent and focused feedback, asking for regular feedback from direct reports, and scheduling weekly team meetings are all behaviors that speak to a whether a manager is dedicating time to their team on a regular basis. Similarly, when gauging manager preparedness for new hires, behaviors include creating a schedule for a new hire's first week on the job, determining and assigning onboarding training, introducing a new hire to relevant stakeholders and employees at the company, and providing role clarity with a roadmap of short and longer term goals.

Importantly, these standards are completely binary: you've either done them or you haven't. There is no room for interpretation. Not only do they articulate what should be done, when, and how often, but ideally, they also link out to related learning resources. Everything is spelled out. This puts every manager on the same page and makes it easy for the organization to determine who is living into the standard and who is not.

Related: Leadership 101: Narrow Your Say-Do Gap

A simple idea, often overlooked.

If this idea seems simple, that's because it is. But that doesn't mean it's the norm. You'd be surprised at how many organizations don't take the time to precisely articulate what they expect from their managers. If your organization is already doing this, bravo! You're a step ahead of the pack. If you haven't, now's your chance.

Jeff Fernandez

Cofounder & CEO

Jeff Fernandez is the co-founder & CEO of Grovo, a cloud-based training platform that teaches professional skills through a proprietary micro-learning methodology. At Grovo, Jeff leads the team to focus on their mission to solve the digital skills gap – brought about by the rapid influx of technology and cloud tools – in today’s workforce. Organizations in 190 countries, including more than 100 Fortune 500 companies, use Grovo to train their teams, using Grovo’s more than 4,500 video lessons and assessments covering 130 Internet tools, cloud services, and professional topics.

Related Topics

Innovation

The Greasy, Glamorous Rise of Mascara

You won't believe the grimy gunk people used to smear on their eyelashes -- and still do.

Business News

Police: 82-Year-Old Woman Found Alive at New York Funeral Home After Being Pronounced Dead

The woman was found breathing almost three hours after she was pronounced dead.

Business News

An NFL Rookie Scores a $514,000 Jackpot in Las Vegas

Los Angeles Rams running back Ronnie Rivers sat down to play 3-card poker and left a half million dollars richer.

Business News

'Our Kids Aren't Even Safe To Order Food': Mother Outraged After DoorDash Employee Uses App to Flirt With Teen Daughter

One mom is going viral on TikTok after catching a DoorDash employee attempting to flirt with her 15-year-old daughter through the messaging service provided through the platform.

Business News

Sarah Michelle Gellar Recalls Being Sued by McDonald's at Age 5 for Starring in a Contentious Burger King Ad

The now 45-year-old actress spoke about a campaign she did for the fast food giant at the beginning of her career.

Business News

'Completely Absurd': The Average U.S. Male Can't Fit Into Universal Studio's New 'Blatantly Fatphobic' Mario Kart Ride

Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge formally opens to the public as a part of Super Nintendo World inside of Universal Studios Hollywood on February 17.