Research

Why do managers go home every night, with a full briefcase, feeling badly about what they didn’t get done that day, instead of feeling good about what they did get done?

This is the question that started the research program that eventually led to the establishment of Effective ManagersTM, an organization dedicated to helping managers be more effective.

Too often, organizations can inadvertently put roadblocks in the way of managers – sometimes the very systems that are put in place to help managers actually hinder them in unintended ways. Opinions abound on how to improve performance, but no published research exists that quantifies manager effectiveness and the drivers that reinforce or constrain effectiveness.

The Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, and Effective ManagersTM partnered to undertake ground breaking research investigating managerial effectiveness in the workplace. This research explored new aspects of the management literature.

The research study closed at the end of 2013. Nearly 200 managers, representing nearly 2,000 manager-subordinate relationships from eight organizations (private sector, not for profit and government) participated in the Effective ManagersTM research project. The results are now being written up for management sciences journals.

Managers report they are operating at just over 55% effectiveness.

They are attending meetings they shouldn’t attend, reading emails they shouldn’t have to read, fighting jurisdictional battles they shouldn’t have to fight, and duplicating work also assigned elsewhere.

The bottom line is that, through research, we have an understanding of the actual effectiveness of managers. On average managers feel they are operating at just 55% effectiveness. That is an ineffectiveness ratio of over 2 days a week! Managers identified that they spend just over 20% of their time doing work that is not part of their job. In addition, they spend nearly 25% of their time doing work that could (we would say should) be delegated to an administrative support position.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Manager effectiveness is very highly correlated with clarity of delegated accountability, and the degree to which managers “feel” they are accountable.
  • Over 1/3 of managers are not clear about what their managers hold them accountable for.
  • Only 1/3 of managers don’t feel they are in conflict situations in the workplace.
  • Organizational learning measures are very highly correlated to organization effectiveness.
  • Less than 1/3 of managers believe that the corporate performance management system works.
  • Less than 1/2 of managers are delegated clear objectives

How Would Your Organization Stack Up?

You don’t have to wait for the published journals. Participation in the Manager EffectivenessTM Survey is now available to any organization, in English or French, at a very reasonable price point. A 94-question confidential survey has been developed to gather data directly from managers, who can log on to a secure web site to provide their direct input on these measures. Traditional employee surveys require all employers to participate. With this survey, a CEO can get the results with an investment of 20 – 30 minutes of each manager’s time.

Email Dwight to discuss further.

Accountability Measure

The research shows that Accountability is very highly correlated with manager effectiveness. Accountability is at the heart of managerial leadership. It is important that employees have a clear understanding of what they are being held accountable for and how their outcomes will contribute to the success of their organization. Accountability is also correlated with team and organization effectiveness.

Accountability has two dimensions:

  1. Clarity of Accountability – the degree to which managers are clear about the accountability and authority that has been delegated to them. As an organizational measure, this means thinking about how well the organization can translate accountability for output from the strategic plan through the CEO down to each individual manager in the organization. This measure correlates highly with a managers’ perceived self-effectiveness.
  2. Felt Accountability – the degree to which managers feel they are accountable. Felt accountabilities can be related to being accountable to a manager for work, or it could be other things that are not real accountabilities, but feel like accountabilities, such as responsibilities to customers, to stakeholders, to peers, and so on.

A series of seven measures are correlated with Accountability in organizations. These are important to understand, as they provide the insight into root causes that can constrain or improve accountability in the workplace.

  • Workflow – The extent to which managers perceive work flowing smoothly across the organization.
  • Organizational Learning – The extent to which individuals in the organization learn from others, share, experiment and transfer knowledge.
  • Role Conflict -The degree of conflict that managers experience in their day to day work.
  • Corporate Systems – Providing support to managers for doing their work.
  • Manager’s Manager Capability – The extent to which managers feel that their manager is capable.
  • Team and Organizational Effectiveness – The effectiveness of both teams and the organization as a whole.
  • Interdependence – How much managers depend on other managers in parts of the organization to do their work.

Invest in Your Knowledge

As research findings are published, you will be able to connect to them on this page. In the meantime, register for our eNewsletter for a monthly update including our most insightful content.

Copyright © 2017 - Dwight Mihalicz -Sage Effective Managers