Michael Tan | Today's Manager
Managers must continue to upgrade their personal skills and sharpen their metaphorical saw when relating to their staff in order to achieve their employee-organisational goal alignment.
An organisation is a systematic arrangement of people brought together to accomplish some specific purpose. This is typically expressed in terms of goals. For example, the president of a soft drink distributor sets his/her sights on ‘reinvigorating the merchandise mix by branding aggressively’.
No purpose or goal can be achieved without people making daily decisions to perform a variety of activities to make the goal a reality. All organisations develop a systematic structure that defines the roles and responsibilities and behaviours of its members. For example, forming rules and regulations, giving some members supervisory control over other members, forming work teams, or writing job descriptions so that organisational members know what they are supposed to do.
For simplicity’s sake, we can divide organisational members into two categories: operatives and managers. Operatives are people who work directly on the job and have no responsibility for overseeing the work of others. In contrast, managers have employees who report directly to them, have to plan, organise, direct, and control the activities of these people in the organisation. Customarily classified as top, middle, or first-line managers, these individuals supervise both operative employees and lower-level managers.
What Skills and Competencies Do Successful Managers Possess?
A World Economic Forum 2016 article mentioned that by 2020, ‘the Fourth Industrial Revolution will have brought us advanced robotics and autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning, advanced materials, biotechnology, and genomics.’
These developments will transform the way we live and work. It is predicted that some jobs will disappear and others will grow and the jobs that do not exist today will become commonplace. In a forecast set by human resource (HR) and strategy officers from leading global employers, they came up with the top 10 skills for 2020.
Interestingly, by 2020, the top three skills can still be performed by an individual manager. However, the next three are focussed on interacting with others. This implies managers must not only upgrade their personal skills, but they will have to continuously sharpen their metaphorical saw when interrelating with their staff. They need to be excellent communicators, exemplify networking and cooperative skills, provide good dialogue skills, and demonstrate an empathic personality. The result will be the ability to gain trust and ensure that co-workers follow that example.
(Source: Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum 1)
One of the most challenging roles of the manager is to influence others to meet organisational objectives with the same level of motivation as themselves. This is challenging because while the organisational goals are made public through the media, employee goals tend to be private. Often, they are not known and not readily shared.
Hence, a manager needs to make an effort to get to know his/her direct reports. This may not be easy due to many factors: it takes time; this interaction will be successful if both parties trust each other as building rapport may take a long time. Also, in this fast-changing environment, employees desire different goals at different stages of their lives. This rapport can become successful only when employees are willing to share their aspirations with their managers.
Here are some suggestions for managers to achieve their employee-organisational goal alignment:
- It is assumed that the employee has similar personal values as the organisation. For example: ‘Personal Integrity’ is similar to the organisation’s ‘Integrity’. If they are aligned, chances are the employee’s behaviour can be predicted.
- ‘Sell’ not ‘Tell’ employees the reasons why they need to align themselves with organisational goals. The ‘What’s-in-it-for-me’ is alive and well. For example, if the employee knows that teamwork is necessary to meet the objectives for a certain project, then a change of personal behaviour becomes essential to meet that goal.
- Explain why they are doing what they are doing. Once the reasons are known, the effort to align flows smoothly.
- Have informal conversations rather than present such a proposal during a formal meeting. Be empathetic during such opportunities and be authentic in your approach. This helps to build trust and rapport.
- This is a continuous process. There is no end in sight and may be exhausting for some managers. But there is a silver lining: employees need to hear their concerns articulated so that they will continue to believe in the company’s vision, mission, and values.
During this workshop, ‘Developing Self Effectiveness for Improved Performance’, participants articulate, reflect, and share their roles and responsibilities at a personal level and then work out a plan on how they can design this with their team members. As managers are expected to lead by example, there is an in-depth discussion on how to make it happen during the class.
Finally, managers need to ‘walk the talk’ at all times so that their influence over their direct reports will increase in order to achieve the desired results.
1 Future of Jobs Report, World Economic Forum,
Mr Michael P A Tan is an associate trainer/facilitator with SIMPD and conducts both funded and non-funded SIMPD workshops for PMETs to achieve their desired outcomes.
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