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Tips for Managers

While supervising others can be gratifying, it is not always easy.  A mix of diverse personalities has the potential to create synergy as well as to create productivity gridlock.  Some individuals are more ready than others to take direction.  Ideally, having energized employees who are fully engaged would be any supervisor’s dream.  So, what can be done to promote movement in that direction?

Enter the Gallup organization.  They recently published their 3rd annual “State of the American Workplace” report.  A central statistic they cite is that employee engagement continues to be low, about 33%.  However, based on the same research from which they created their report, Gallup offers a number of suggestions for employers and supervisors. 

With permission, here are nine “Tips for Managers” from the Gallup Organization.

Tips For Managers

When establishing expectations, managers should ensure they are:

  •  Clear. Determine and agree on an employee’s job duties, and then define what success looks like and how it is measured. Determine how to prioritize work by clarifying which assignments or duties are urgent and which can wait —taking into consideration the priorities of other team members. Expectations aren’t clear until they are prioritized.

  • Collaborative. Both employees and managers should be held accountable for ensuring employees are focusing on the right activities and goals. Employees should have a voice in setting performance goals that are fair, relevant and challenging. Jointly determining and prioritizing expectations forces a greater shared understanding of workflow while strengthening both the employee-manager relationship and motivation.

  •  Aligned. Create goals with employees that are in step with the goals of their team and organization. Talk with employees about the organization’s strategy and values to ensure they can see how their performance affects and contributes to the company’s performance. Also make sure employees’ goals and expectations align with what others in the organization are expecting of them.

To help guide coaching behaviors, managers should ensure their ongoing performance conversations are:

  • Frequent. Know each employee’s preferences regarding communication and coaching. Do not look over their shoulders or constantly ask for progress reports. Instead, touch base with them at least weekly — whether via email, phone, instant messaging, hallway conversations or video conferences — to provide some form of coaching. When employees have opportunities for improvement, address them immediately so they can apply lessons learned to their current work.

  • Focused. Keep coaching conversations focused by knowing the purpose and expectations of each conversation at the outset. To prevent discussions from becoming transactional in nature — which often makes them feel disingenuous or unnecessary — managers should concentrate on topics that are relevant to the needs of the employees, addressing progress, successes and barriers to current work.

  • Future-oriented. The best managers don’t primarily give reactive feedback on past performance; rather, they proactively provide advice and strategies for achieving outstanding performance in the future. Traditional approaches to feedback tend to overly focus on evaluation and criticism of what employees did wrong — which feels judgmental and punitive. When performance corrections are needed, managers need to coach forward by focusing on what can be done differently in the future rather than focusing on the mistakes of the past.

Beyond occurring twice or more per year, progress reviews are most successful when they are:

  • Achievement-oriented. Start and end reviews by recognizing employees for their accomplishments and acknowledging what they do best. Set an encouraging tone for the review and continually bring it back to the employee’s strengths. Do not ignore or gloss over areas that need additional coaching or improvement, but keep the discussion centered on accomplishments and future opportunities.

  •  Fair and accurate. Ensure metrics reflect the employee’s true contributions to their role and the organization. Personalize expectations and outcomes by creating individualized goals that take into account the employee’s unique expertise, experiences, aspirations and developmental needs. During progress reviews, focus on the most important outcomes of an employee’s role.

  • Developmental. Both managers and employees should leave the discussion with a clear understanding of the employee’s opportunities to learn and grow. Development is not one-size-fits-all. Collaborate with employees to determine in which areas they want professional growth and explore how they can experience the right opportunities to meet their needs, such as attending a professional conference, connecting with a mentor, taking on new assignments or undergoing training to learn a new skill. Then create a plan for experiencing those opportunities and establish a path for reaching their overall development goals.”


Works Cited
Gallup. (2017). State of the American Workplace 2017. Retrieved Mar 8, 2017, from