Measuring the Effectiveness of Leaders and Managers

Updated on May 3, 2017
Mike Shoemake profile image

Mike Shoemake has been a successful software developer for 20 years, building quality applications and high performing development teams.

Source

Introduction

In a complex and unpredictable world, very little is as complex as getting a bunch of humans to move in the same direction to accomplish a specific goal. Still, in twenty years I’ve seen people who consistently do it well. I’ve also seen people who completely botched it, destroying themselves in glorious fashion. But, most of the ineffective managers I’ve experienced were like teflon—nothing sticks to them. They know how to play the game, spin the right yarn, tell the right story. They know who to take to happy hour. They know how to sell themselves while selling others down the river.

This works because managers aren’t the ones actually responsible for writing the code or executing the tests. If there are bugs in the software, clearly it’s not the manager’s fault. He didn’t put them there. Instead, he gets a pat on the head and a “nice try” when things go south, because the results of ineffective management are very difficult to see from above. Leadership is definitely a tough job, but assessing the effectiveness of leaders can be even more difficult. A leader can make or break a team, an organization, or a company. So what can a company do to ensure that their leaders are effective?

An Accurate Assessment

We all have our own understanding of what a good leader is and how they should act. Unfortunately, opinions on this vary greatly. It’s all very subjective, isn’t it? Once you get past the obvious expectations like character, integrity, and fairness, it starts to get a little muddy. But, it doesn't have to be that subjective.

As a leader, my primary responsibility is to constantly improve the effectiveness of my team. This implies two key things. First, someone actually has to measure effectiveness somehow. If you can create a reasonable picture of the team’s effectiveness using a variety of key performance indicators (quality metrics, throughput, task completion, velocity, etc.) then you have something you can stand on for your decision making. You’re making decisions based on reality rather than a feeling or intuition. If everyone has access to this data (including the team), they can learn from it as well.

Second, what you're really looking for is improvement (or the lack of it). This means you’re not making decisions based on specific data points. Is the trend line moving up, showing improvement? Is what the manager is doing making a positive difference? Spikes (abnormalities in the trend line) will occur, and it’s definitely important to understand the root cause. What does the team say is the reason for the spike? What does the manager say? At the end of the day, everyone needs to learn from the experience. But spikes are not an indicator of ineffective leadership. Your focus should be on the trend.

One data point that's often ignored is the opinion of the team itself. If a person on the team is frustrated with a manager, that's not surprising. It could be an indication that there is a real issue with the manager, or it could be that this person doesn't like to be held accountable. If an entire team is frustrated with a manager, that seems concerning. People simply don't perform as well when they're irritated. Often these frustrations get dismissed, as if employees are expected to simply suck it up and stop complaining. It's a little like driving a car. if the car starts smoking, you should probably stop driving and pull it over. A team that's "smoking" isn't going anywhere fast anyway. You might as well stop and put the fire out. If you pull each team member into a room and ask them why there's smoke, you might be surprised to discover that all fingers are pointing in the same direction.

Conclusion

Obviously there are other things to consider when holding leaders accountable (HR violations, behavior, interactions with peers, interactions with the customer, etc.). But companies definitely struggle with holding leaders accountable for improving team performance. Ineffective leaders can severely cripple team morale and effectiveness. It’s critical to the success of the company that those leaders are identified as soon as possible so they can be replaced. There absolutely is a correlation between unhappiness and motivation in the workplace. Fear and anxiety do not produce high performing teams. Imagine what your company could do if teams were led effectively. Competitors beware.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://toughnickel.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)