21st Century Managers: Guiding Stars

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True Story of an Unguided Star  
There was once a bright graduate from Syracuse University who found a full time job with a Name Company in the midwest. Imagine her disappointment to discover that her job required none of her education, none of her intern experience.  She was slotted to routine tasks.  At her annual review her supervisor was pleased with her performance because she “required no supervision and performed so well independently.”   Six months later, the SU grad took her degree and experience to New York where she landed a job in a Small Company that was impressed with the Name Company.  At the annual review, her supervisor explained that he was disappointed with her.  He had assumed that she had acquired more skills working for the Name Company.  Panicked, she asked what she should do, for she had no idea that she was not operating at the expected level.  He told not to worry that “she could learn as she went along.”  The following month, she was laid off.   (Guiding Stars – adapted and amended from my March 2013 Blog)

After all the spilled ink & training, why are managers and supervisors making the same mistakes?
It appears that the Name Company supervisor was glad to hand off routine work to ease her own responsibilities and get a job done.  Why not just hire a Hand? Hand =the nineteenth century name for employee.  Hands ran all those weaving machines and were easily replaced.  Motivation was never an issue.

The 21st century supervisor cannot waste employee skills and talents by ignoring the employees’ need for direction and motivation.  Today’s jobs are filled with more discretionary tasks, that challenge both thinking and interacting.  Sure there are routine parts to any job – but supervisors who fail to use and develop talent and skills rob both the company and the employee.

The 21st century manager cannot expect employees to meet performance needs by withholding feedback and training.  The Small Company manager waited until the annual review to give a negative evaluation.  He hid behind a layoff that cloaked his failure to direct his new employee.  While managers expect certain levels of performance, employees expect honesty and direction. The workplace is more fluid in terms of organization structure and collaborative relationships. New employees need direction in navigating these complexities and guidance in meeting changing performance demands.

In his Forbes blog, Glenn Llopis gives great advice for managers working with aspiring  professionals:    “Never marginalize your young professionals just because you have not taken the time to work with them to truly understand how they operate. Challenge them to perform unconventional tasks and you will quickly begin to recognize their performance capabilities, skills-sets and know-how.”    
(Found at:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/03/12/5-ways-young-professionals-want-to-be-led/2/)

21st century managers and supervisors must fully develop their leadership skills so that they can successfully guide and motivate employees.  Leadership goes beyond ‘getting the job done’ and a ‘round of pats on the backs.’ Leaders create environments where employees are curious to learn new skills, to suggest innovative ideas, to collaborate with peers and supervisors. Managers and supervisors, who guide stars, understand the impact their leadership makes and strive to create an open, responsive environment that nurtures employee growth.

21st century managers and supervisors must dedicate time to develop employees.  Leaders understand the importance of developing employees. Employees, willing to share their Shooting Startalents, want to grow those talents and expect professional guidance.  Managers and supervisors need a battery of leadership skills to provide direction and support to transform employees into Stars – Stars who master the difficult, and challenging skills like: decision-making and problem-solving.  Guided Stars will learn to share insights and become leaders in their own right.

21st century business is powered by innovation and flexibility that requires continual learning and mutual collaboration.    The 20th century’s annual performance appraisal has been replaced by continual feedback and ongoing skill mastery.

Are your supervisors and managers guiding stars in the 21st century?

About mcgntr

About Ann I was lucky and grew up in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts surrounded by the arts, industry, literature, and family. I had a great education-- undergraduate work at Caldwell College and my masters at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I began business life as Training Assistant. Returning east, I continued in the training profession, and ‘fell’ into Human Resources - first, Recruiting and Employment, Director of Human Resources and finally Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Training. I bowed out of the corporate world with the white collar layoffs in early ‘90s – and started a new venture McGill Enterprises: HelpQuick Human Resources Advisory & Training Services. I have enjoyed great opportunities - publishing 3 training books, mentoring HR professionals, creating a wide variety of training programs, writing scripts, and becoming an adjunct professor.
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