Are You Managing by Accident?

Throughout my training and development career, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting multiple cities in almost every state in the United States. Through this experience, I’ve learned about the art of exploring, and have become almost an expert at finding secret eateries and unique dining experiences. The process has become an exciting challenge and discovering that perfect hidden culinary gem never ceases to provide a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

Lead and manager on purpose

Throughout my great discoveries, one thing stands out: The more effort I put into finding that special place, the more likely I am to add another winner to my list. When I’ve focused my efforts by asking locals and researching an area before a visit, I’ve found perfect, unique destinations. However, when I’ve wandered around a city hoping to bump into a historic watering hole or an exotic canteen, I’ve usually ended up at a suburban strip mall eating chicken fingers.

After several trips I came to realize that my success had been a direct result of applying one of my favorite training principles: You get results when you do things on purpose, not when you hope they’ll happen on accident.

So, how many of us are managing “by accident”—crossing fingers and hoping that the person we’ve hired will manage at their highest level and coach their people to their full potential? Can we afford to close our eyes and trust that our managers will become the best on their own? The stakes are high, the marketplace is competitive, and senior leadership is watching.

We have to lead and manage on purpose. Almost all managers, at one point or another, will offer up one of the following excuses for not putting effort into coaching or developing their managers:

  • “We don’t have time.”
  • “We don’t know how.”
  • “We don’t think our people want our coaching.”
  • “We don’t receive incentives from our managers to coach.”

And when I say most managers, I’m including the managers that you manage, too.  Indeed, some managers are just classic “naysayers,” believing that training and coaching takes too much time and effort, with unproven results. That’s the bad news.

Enter the IPRA assessment

The good news is the discipline of coaching managers has just earned some much-needed credibility with the validation of a unique measurement tool called the Individual Assessment (IA) Scale from the Institute of Psychological Research and Application (IPRA) at Bowling Green State University.

IPRA’s research team reviewed 10 years of data collected on the IA Scale, a questionnaire developed by Personalized Management Coaching. Data was collected from 423 managers and senior managers and nearly 4,000 direct reports, representing companies operating across a range of sectors in Canada and the United Kingdom, from such industries as pharmaceuticals, automotive, retail, financial, manufacturing, environmental services, and aviation.

Results from the analysis showed the IA Scale to be highly reliable across all three sources of reports (manager, senior managers, and direct reports). More importantly, scores provided by the direct reports of the managers were highly and directly correlated with employee engagement, employee development, management competency, retention/turnover and promotion of the manager.

The science says it all. Once we measure our managers on purpose, we can begin to coach our managers into becoming better coaches themselves. Don’t be an accidental manager hoping you’ll stumble onto that next superstar; lead and manage on purpose.

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Originally posted by Shaw Buxton in ASTD magazine


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