Truly talented people will not be drawn to poorly managed organizations. And no organization can be successful without talent.
The late, great Peter Drucker was famous for saying “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”.
What’s interesting about this quote is that it is generally used to denigrate management and to point out the superiority of leadership, as if one can exist without the other. However, in the absence of skilled management the strongest leadership will remain theoretical in nature.
Management is more than important – it is vital. We have to do things right.
People are hungry to be managed well – even if they are already high performers. We’ve found three crucial elements to skilled management as it relates to attracting and retaining talent.
1. Just the right amount of supervision. Managers who groom top talent know when to supervise and when to position themselves to offer help. The best managers are more like coaches than taskmasters, ensuring that their team members have all of the resources and support they need to do their jobs and that they understand the mission and objectives of the organization. After that, the best managers position themselves to make midstream adjustments and get on the balcony, taking a bird’s eye view of all of their team’s activities.
2. Timely and relevant feedback. In our research one word came up again and again as productive team members described their managers – “helpful”. There’s a lot in that word. When someone is helpful they provide the assistance, resources, and counsel we need. We know they are available if and when we need them. But they don’t hover or try to solve problems we should be solving. We know they will provide us with everything we need to do our work and the freedom to exercise our talents in so doing. And they give us feedback along the way that is in the moment, relevant to the day to day, and illustrates how our work contributes to the overall mission of the organization.
3. Rewards commensurate with performance. The best performers can get rewarded anywhere. But they can’t get rewarded anywhere in ways that are relevant to them. This last bit is critical. It is a minimum expectation that good performance will result in appropriate rewards but what can steal the show and lead to higher and higher levels of employee engagement is when those rewards are tailored to the individual. Maybe it’s cash on the barrelhead. Or maybe it is expanded learning opportunities, flexible work schedules or time off, or a personalized career track with rapid advancement. Whatever it is, the wise manager knows her people and rewards accordingly and individually.
Manage with these three characteristics at the forefront and you will find that your team and your organization will begin to attract and retain the very top talent in your industry!