INTOUCH : I’m an OK leader. Yeah, right!

Do managers really have good grip on how well they’re managing? recent survey raises some doubts.
The Great New Zealand Employment Survey 2010 by Clarian Human Resources reveals perception gap between New Zealand employers and employees highlighting conflicting ideas as to how well issues of communication, pay and reward are being handled.
Designed to take in the whole employment lifecycle, the survey brings together employer and employee opinions across four primary areas: people strategy; attraction/selection; leadership/performance; and, engagement/retention.
While confirming existing perceptions – that employers have responded to tighter markets by retracting some activities and focusing internally for ways to improve the business – the survey also highlighted areas that need more focus.
For instance, while 65 percent of employers reported they had increased communications over the past year, an almost equal percentage of employees (60 percent) reported either decrease or no change. And while bosses think they’re doing okay with managing performance, employees reckon they could be doing better.
Responses from managers suggest fairly egocentric skew, says Clarian managing director Clare Parkes.
“Employers believe they are managing performance well and it’s quite evident from employee comments that isn’t the case. They say poor performance is not being managed, that they don’t know what expectations are of them in their role. And employers tend to say my team is doing okay even if the organisation as whole isn’t – so it’s little egocentric.
“That either shows us managers don’t have much exposure to their lack of capability or they have inflated egos around it.”
The management of poor performance is regarded as weakness both by employers (58 percent) and employees (60 percent). Employers indicate that their people leaders are “disinclined to have courageous conversations” with their team. For their part, employees rate internal conflict, ineffective leadership and unclear expectations as the main barriers to better performance in the organisation. They are also seeking more clarity on their potential career path with more than half stating there are no career paths available to them in their current organisation.
Parkes believes that leadership skills are perhaps not being effectively cascaded down to frontline managers – particularly when it comes to communicating business strategy and directions.
The survey suggests there are some key areas for employers to focus on she says. These include:
• Stabilising the organisation following restructure through more effective and comprehensive communication;
• Identifying critical skills – sourcing and developing from within across all levels of staff;
• Effectively managing poor performance and having more robust discussions with employees;
• Undertaking learning and development interventions for all staff – with particular focus on management skills, creating clear career path for employees and providing clear expectations of performance;
• Understanding the core root-to-attrition rates and engagement levels, paying particular attention to the cost and effort required to obtain 100 percent productivity from new recruits;
• Reviewing how employees are rewarded and developing clear principles for activity that will retain core skills.

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