What is HR’s most neglected management function?

by Miklos Bolza09 May 2016
Too often, management doesn’t perform their job well with several important functions being neglected, Victor Lipman, leadership expert and author, wrote in a recent Forbes article.
 
For clarity around this issue, he highlighted five key areas which management commonly overlooks. The winner is listed first with the runners up falling in behind.
 
Employee development
 
This is the classic example of a function that managers value highly yet routinely ignore, he said.
 
“For busy managers, generally with too much to do in too little time, it’s a very easy task to put off to some indefinite point in the future … since it’s exceedingly hard to calculate ROI on.”
 
In corporations where resources are stretched, functions without any obvious payback tend to get cast aside, he added.
 
He pointed to research done by the Harvard Business Review which found that while workers value opportunities for on-the-job development, formal development options such as training, mentoring and coaching aren’t being offered. The lack of such opportunities can then spur the worker to seek employment elsewhere, he added.
 
“This completely aligns with my own management experience: lack of development opportunities were a frequent employee frustration, while thoughtful development and training were always a much-appreciated loyalty builder.”
 
Employee recognition
 
“In two-and-a-half decades of employee surveys I was involved with, only one management issue came up repeatedly as a pain point in each one them: recognition. Employees never felt they were getting enough of it,” Lipman said.
 
He continued, saying that the act of giving recognition when it genuinely is deserved is easy and cost-free and can mean a great deal for those on the receiving end.
 
Accountability
 
This function appeared on this list because, while most managers are seen as unfairly tough, there is a huge difference between general bossiness and leadership which is strong and results-oriented, Lipman said.
 
“Studies show that many managers, even senior managers, are surprisingly weak at accountability.”
 
He mentioned research done by the Harvard Business Review which found that 46% of upper level managers rated poorly on the quality of holding people accountable and being firm when workers didn’t deliver.
 
Establishing clear goals
 
“This is a basic but underrated function,” Lipman said.
 
While possibly seen as an HR irritant or a bothersome exercise in bureaucracy, setting out clear goals has real implications on how employee performance is measured and evaluated, he said.
 
“Research shows more than half of managers don’t set effective goals. My own perspective is that establishing meaningful, measurable and mutually agreed-upon goals is well worth whatever time managers put into them.”
 
Communication
 
“I never met a good manager who wasn’t also a good communicator,” Lipman said. “Yet the reality is many managers are at best reluctant communicators.”
 
One of the main causes for this is how managers are chosen, he added, as they are typically selected because of their solid technical expertise.
 
“That’s not to say individuals promoted this way can never be good managers; sure they can. However – and this is a big however – it’s always worth bearing in mind that interpersonal skills more than technical skills … are what the job most requires.”
 

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