Are you a good boss? The value of effective middle management.

Are you a good boss?  The value of effective middle management.

This is a good snippet on the power of leading/teaching/mentoring.

A colleague recently shared with me a study conducted by Kathryn Shaw and Edward Lazear of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Utah’s Christopher Stanton called “The Value of Bosses.”  The study reports that “There is the 11% improvement lift in changing from a poor supervisor to a good one.” That translates to replacing a supervisor from the bottom 10 percent of the pool with one from the top 10 percent increases output about as much as adding a 10th worker to a nine-worker team.

What is interesting about the study is that the authors found that the improvement in performance did not come from micromanaging the workers or cracking the whip over them but through teaching and training them on better processes and methods.  Even more interesting is that when the best workers were paired with the best supervisors the improvement was phenomenal.  Even after the supervisor was changed, the improvement lingered.

That makes sense to me, but I don’t know of many companies that only have stars on their teams.  Most have supervisors and workers that could improve and the organization probably won’t survive if the stars only work with the stars.  I believe the trick is finding how to raise every worker’s game to star level, or at least drive improvement.

That is where the second piece of the puzzle dropped into place for me.

Another colleague introduced me to the book “ThinkerToys” which in a nutshell presents the concepts of developing creativity in yourself and others.  One of the most fundamental aspects of being creative is saying “I am creative” or avoiding the contrary “I am not creative”.  Studies found that when random groups of individuals were asked whether they were creative or not, the most important thing affecting their actual creativity was whether they thought they were or not.  Background, training, artistic, left/right brain dominance were all secondary.  Those who thought they were not creative became creative once they began to think that way.

Now, take that concept an go back to the effective middle management discussion….bosses who allow team members to use word like “we can’t” or “that’s just who we are” or don’t show and encourage allowing “yes” to be a possibility or showing by example how “yes” can be achieved allow their workers to not  grow or produce, under-achieve.  Impacting individuals with that change in mentality can help the individual to maintain and grow without continuous additional input or even with different bosses.  The impact will not only grow the individual but it will grow the company and likely the individual’s peers as well.

Leadership and management through training, mentoring, and open thinking.  Now that’s a pretty easy one, if you think about it.



About Tod Kerr

Tod is a senior corporate leader with 20 years of experience managing business operations in numerous functional areas, with a focus on developing and marketing business to business technology solutions to world-wide high tech markets that allow customers to operate their business more efficiently by driving out costs, improving productivity, and creating value for their clients.
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