Core Requirements of Successful Managers

The Importance of Accountability

Being accountable simply means being responsible for decisions made, actions taken, and assignments completed.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the role accountability plays in driving managerial performance.

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Accountability in business is critical, as the concept enhances the ethics of managers.
  • Being accountable means standing by decisions, actions, and the overall well-being of projects.
  • Accountability is also a management process that ensures employees answer to their superior for their actions and that supervisors behave responsibly as well.
  • Accountability addresses both the organization ‘s expectation of the employee and the employee’s expectation of the organization.
  • Accountable employees help to increase performance of business as a whole and to maintain a positive company culture, vision, and ethics.
  • Accountability on a global scale, particularly in the case of NGOs, is complicated by the fact that different countries have varying legislative perspectives when it comes to accountability.

Key Terms

  • accountability: Being responsible for one’s own work and answering for the repercussions of one’s own actions.
  • paradigmatic: Pertaining to a given template, context or model.

Introduction

In organizations, accountability is a management control process in which responses are given for a person’s actions. These responses can be positive or negative. Depending on the response, the person might need to correct his or her error. In other words, accountability refers to individual responsibility for the work performed and answering to peers and superiors for performance.

Accountability is often used synonymously with responsibility, blameworthiness, and liability. As an aspect of governance, accountability has been central to discussions related to problems in the public, non-profit, and corporate sectors.

In leadership roles, accountability is the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employee position. Accountability also encompasses the obligation to report, explain, and answer for resulting consequences. As leaders often make decisions with far-reaching consequences, accountability has a substantial ethical component.

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Government accountability: Governing authorities have the obligation to report, explain, and answer for resulting consequences of their actions.

Accountability in Companies

Accountability also has a strong connection to expectations. Employees who do not meet the expectations of their supervisor are held accountable for their actions and must answer for their inability to do so.

Accountability is crucial to ensuring high performance within an organization. However, managers must clearly communicate their expectations to the person who is responsible for the specified action or task. Clear communication of expectations and well defined goals is a very effective tool to enhancing performance at every level of organization.

Without defined goals, employees lack a frame of reference for how they are performing in the workplace. They are unable to rely on guidelines or a structure that helps them achieve their performance goals. In many organizations, the management team and board of directors create goals for themselves and the general manager, while the general manager creates goals for department managers. This process is replicated throughout the organization, down to the department managers who create goals for entry-level employees.

Both subordinates and supervisors should have a clear idea of how their projects should be handled and delivered. A clear expectation level and the understanding that all employees are accountable for their performance boosts employee morale and productivity in the workplace. However, because different individuals in large organizations contribute in various ways to a company’s decisions and policies, it is often difficult to identify who should be accountable for the results.

Global Accountability

Recently, accountability has become an important topic in the discussion about the legitimacy of international institutions. Because there is no global, democratically elected body to which organizations must account, global organizations from all sectors’ bodies are often criticized as having large accountability gaps.

One emblematic problem in the global context is that of institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which are founded and supported by wealthy nations and provide aid in the form of grants and loans to developing nations. The question persists as to whether these institutions should be accountable to their founders and investors or to the persons and nations they help.

In the debate over global justice and its distributional consequences, those in highly developed, heavily populated areas tend to advocate greater accountability to traditionally marginalized populations and developing nations. On the other hand, those who adopt a more nationalistic or provincial view deny the tenets of moral universalism; they argue that beneficiaries of global development initiatives have no substantive entitlement to call international institutions to account. The One World Trust Global Accountability Report, published in a first full cycle from 2006 to 2008, is one attempt to measure the capability of global organizations to be accountable to their stakeholders.

Examples

Example 1

The United States Department of Organization provides specific guidelines about accountability of managers. Managers are responsible for the quality and timeliness of program performance, increasing productivity, controlling costs and mitigating adverse aspects of agency operations, and assuring that programs are managed with integrity and in compliance with applicable law.

Example 2

The situation at Enron is another strong example of accountability – where the actions of a few unethical individuals caused great harm to the broader corporation and all stakeholders. In the case of Enron, the individuals involved in the negative actions are held accountable for the subsequent consequences, which reduces the likelihood similar things will happen again in the future.

The Importance of Leverage

Management roles are defined by the capacity to motivate and leverage human capital in the organization to achieve efficiency in operations.

Learning Objectives

Describe how general managerial functions gain leverage in the workplace and how this relates to motivation

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • While there are different ways to view the concept of gaining leverage as a manager, the underlying principle should be one of synergy.
  • Managers are responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, monitoring, and motivating employees to create leverage in an operational system. Leverage primarily revolves around effective delegation and motivation.
  • Effective managers must have a thorough understanding of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as their aspirations and motivators, to appropriately carry out essential tasks.
  • Through combining delegation and motivation skills, managers effectively leverage human capital to achieve high levels of efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Key Terms

  • incentives: Ways to promote a desired action.
  • leverage: A technique used to multiply gain or loss.
  • Synergy: Benefits resulting from combining two different groups, people, objects, or processes.

Why Leverage Matters

Management roles are defined by the capacity of the manager to motivate and leverage the human resources in the organization to achieve efficiency in operations. As a result, effective managers are capable of optimizing the time and effort of employees to attain the highest possible value. This optimization requires a thorough understanding of basic managerial functions and the way in which incentives can be applied according to motivational theories in the workplace.

Although there are different ways of understanding the concept of gaining leverage as a manager, the underlying principle should be one of synergy. The concept of synergy emphasizes that one additional employee’s output is greater than an arithmetic expectation. More simply put, synergy means that 1 + 1 > 2 (a common adage in business for synergy is 1 + 1 = 3). Leverage, therefore, is about getting more out of a system than is put in, resulting in a value-added proposition.

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Design management: Teams can create solutions through integration, giving the manager the ability to solve problems more complex than one individual can handle.

Managerial Functions and Leverage

Managers are responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, monitoring, and motivating employees through the use of highly developed decision-making and interpersonal skills.

Delegation

Planning, organizing, and staffing are the preliminary steps to carrying out a project, setting schedules and constructing a team with the appropriate skills to execute the project effectively. This half of the managerial responsibilities falls largely within the decision-making realm, which correlates to a manager’s ability to organize tasks and delegate these tasks effectively to gain leverage.

The concept of delegation enables managers to minimize their own time commitment to specific elements of a process, as well as improve quality and efficiency through the use of specialists (managers are typically generalists). Delegation therefore allows managers to optimize team structures and skill-set distributions to allow for synergy in operations. Effective managers are able to juggle a number of teams of specialists, empowering their autonomy and controlling the workflow in a way that aligns with organizational objectives. Delegation sounds easy on paper, but it requires a number of intrinsic skills such as communication, organization, multitasking, and the ability to “zoom out” and observe the bigger picture (and identify the critical components that enable it).

Motivation

Planning, organizing, and staffing are followed by the more interpersonal elements of management: directing, monitoring, and motivating the staff. At this point, managers face the challenging task of assessing the skills of employees, assigning relevant tasks, monitoring progress, and providing incentives to drive productivity. Managers must have a thorough understanding of each employee’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as aspirations and motivators, to appropriately carry out these tasks. As a result, understanding motivational theories is at the heart of effectively managing employees.

Motivating employees to leverage the human resources within an organization is central to a manager’s responsibilities; it is achieved by understanding what drives productivity. Generally, positive incentives far outweigh negative ones in leveraging employees. To gain leverage, managers must ascertain what opportunities will drive the highest level of productivity in their work groups.

By effectively combining this motivational understanding with the expectations and responsibilities of managing employees, managers effectively leverage human capital to achieve high levels of efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Example

A business with high liquid capital may invest in information structure to reduce the cost of production and increase automation. These changes will ultimately achieve a higher productivity.

The Importance of Performance Targets

Performance standards motivate employees and management to use their time efficiently by setting achievable objectives.

Learning Objectives

Explain the importance of performance targets in the business framework and the approaches to communicating and achieving them

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • A key performance indicator ( KPI ) sets a performance standard for an organization, a business unit, or an employee.
  • Goal setting means establishing what a person or an organization wants to achieve. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted ( SMART ).
  • Motivation is the key component to effective goal setting. Organizations must consider performance targets within the context of creating motivated employees, who will in turn perform more effectively.
  • Performance targets are particularly useful due to their quantitative nature, which allows the measurement of outcomes and assessment of operations.

Key Terms

  • KPI: Key Performance Indicator; a tool to measure performance.
  • motivation: Willingness to perform an action, especially a behavior; an incentive or reason for doing something.

Managerial effectiveness is often assessed on the ability to achieve performance targets. Three basic concepts are involved in communicating and achieving targets: key performance indicators, goal setting, and motivation.

Performance Indicators

A key performance indicator is a tool for performance measurement used by organizations. It is used to set a performance standard for an organization, a business unit, or an employee. It is also used to evaluate the overall success of the organization and the success of a specific activity in the organization.

Success can be defined as progress towards strategic or operational goals such as zero defects, percentage of customer satisfaction (or retention), profitability margins, etc. KPIs are usually understandable, meaningful, and measurable. For the employee to achieve them, objectives should be clear and simple to understand.

Goal Setting

Goal setting is an effective tool for progressive organizations, because it provides a sense of direction and purpose. Employees benefit greatly from understanding what is expected of them and how they can measure this success (or lack thereof). A clear concept of achievement leads to independent personal development, and goal setting can improve the organization’s performance. Challenging goals tend to result in higher performance than easy or no goals.

Goal setting means establishing what a person or an organization wants to achieve. In setting these objectives, managers must ensure the goals are both understandable and achievable to meet performance targets. The SMART model is a good framework to keep in mind when generating goals and objectives. It aims to design goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-targeted (SMART).

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SMART criteria: Each component of the SMART model describes an effective attribute of a performance objective. Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

The SMARTER framework expands upon this model by noting that objectives should be evaluated and reviewed consistently as well.

Motivation

Motivation elicits, controls, and sustains certain goal-directed behaviors. There are a number of approaches to motivation: physiological, behavioral, cognitive, and social. Motivated employees are also more quality oriented and more productive.

Financial Rewards for Managers

Career success and fulfillment hinge on effective human-resource management and empowering employees with the necessary tools and skills.

Learning Objectives

Describe how managers and human resource professionals can effectively empower employees to achieve success and fulfillment

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Understanding an employee’s needs and future objectives is critical in assigning them the responsibilities that align with their goals and that will serve to develop their skill set in a desired direction.
  • When assigning tasks, managers must keep career success and development in mind. It is beneficial to plan and implement employee objectives based upon career aspirations and skills.
  • Managers are also tasked with monitoring and reviewing employee outcomes with an eye for improvement opportunities. Performance monitoring allows for active skill development through constructive feedback.
  • Managers may employ numerous tools in developing employees in a meaningful and fulfilling way to ensure their future success. These tools include case studies, consultation, mentoring, and technical assistance.

Key Terms

  • empower: To give someone the strength and/or the means to accomplish something.
  • Consultation: A conference for the exchange of information and advice.

From a human-resources framework, managers are largely responsible for the well-being of their employees in regards to providing opportunities for career development and personal fulfillment.

Understanding an employee’s needs and future objectives is critical in assigning them responsibilities that align with their goals and that will serve to develop their skill set in a desired direction. A manager is also a leader, and leadership is a complex facet of the managerial process. Leading employees in an empowering way and enabling career success and fulfillment are central tasks in improving employee outcomes and creating more value for the organization.

When assigning tasks, managers must keep career success and development in mind. A reasonable rule of thumb is the plan-implement-monitor-review model illustrated in the figure below. Planning (based on employee objectives) and implementing (based upon shared expertise) provide a framework to move the employee in the direction of success. Monitoring progress and reviewing it will allow the employee to remain meaningfully engaged, working towards the common goal of success while gaining experience and skills from managerial expertise.

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Facilitating employee success: By employing these steps, a manager can help their employees be successful.

Combining this model for success with a working understanding of a given employee’s objectives and fulfillment needs helps to ensure that employees remain motivated and satisfied with their current roles. Empowering employees in a developmental direction and providing them with challenges that stretch their abilities are substantial motivators. These are important developmental tools companies can use to obtain the highest possible value from their human resource investments.

Strategies for Promoting Employee Success

Promoting career success for employees and managers involves the creation of developmental goals that build stronger skills and aim toward fulfillment. Goal creation is generally achieved using varying approaches and experiences. These may include coaching, higher education, mentoring, reflective supervision, technical training, and consultation. When to apply which particular approach is the primary responsibility of a manager, as is assessing employees’ progress and trajectory towards the completion of their personal career objectives. Following are a few tools managers may use to optimize returns on career development:

  • Case Study Method – Case studies are an excellent way to drive employee experience in a realistic and meaningful way. These incorporate real-life situations that have happened in the past as a method for practicing decision making and assessing performance. Conclusions can then be applied by the employee or manager by assuming the role of the decision makers.
  • Consultation – Consulting assesses employee abilities through observing performance, reflecting upon these observations, and suggesting methods for improvement. This process is an important responsibility of any manager.
  • Mentoring – Mentoring is an excellent approach to enhance career success in which a manager matches two employees of different experience levels to learn from one another. Mentoring is usually accomplished by allowing an outside observer to evaluate and suggest improvements for newer employees who have had less time to develop in a particular role.
  • Technical Assistance – Helping employees implement new technologies and acquire modern skill sets is a growing field in career development. Technical training is provided to enable employees to be more effective with newer methodologies, tools, and equipment. This approach can be of particularly high importance to career development for older demographics, who may have extensive experience in more traditional methods.