Managers Are Responsible To Their Team Members

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Managers Are Responsible To Their Team Members

We asked John Keyser, to talk about his experience with managers working their team members. Below are his thoughts.

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to participate in a Learning Summit for the people of the American Bible Society. I was very impressed by this investment in talent development. Every person in the Society, all 210, participated. The theme was intentional excellence. Topics of the hack-a-thons included:

  • meaningful collaboration 
  • purposeful communication
  • effective mentoring
  • successful meetings
  • healthy organizational culture
  • servant leadership

There were numerous other important topics discussed as a result of Q & A and open discussion. Marcy Davis, Director, Training and Organizational Development of the American Bible Society, has a deep devotion to the people of the society and a strong commitment to help everyone, and I do mean everyone, learn, grow and be successful. It is evident by this inspired learning summit and certainly by the enthusiastic spirit which people bring to the summit. As an outsider, it was heartwarming to see.

Everyone was eagerly engaged. This was definitely an efficient and successful investment in professional development.

And talk about a healthy culture. Everyone was smiling, kindness was evident in everyone’s conversations, and they are all proud of their organization and dedicated to their work! That’s a goal all leaders in business to strive for.

Happy employees do better work.*

In one hack-a-thon we were discussing the responsibility that managers have for their team members. They are responsible to and for them, for their learning, growth and success. During the discussion, a manager offered a really insightful observation, “I feel very responsible for the success of my team members. This is very important to me. Yet, why then, in our performance reviews are they only based on our own self-assessment, our manager’s assessment, and results versus goals? Why is there no input from our team members?”

She has a very good point. Her first priority is her team members. Yet they do not have input on her evaluation.  Shouldn’t we think about this? Remember, leaders focus on their people.

Performance reviews are generally a human resource document and used for promotion and compensation purposes. They theoretically are used for development purposes as well, though they are not nearly as effective in driving development as is honest, timely and helpful feedback. After all, performance reviews are annual, sometimes quarterly, while feedback should be real time, and that is a whole lot more effective.

In a healthy culture, with everyone helping one another, offering and receiving honest and timely feedback and feed forward (i.e., ideas for going forward), there is a definite striving for continuous improvement, individually, as a team and as an organization.

360 leadership assessments are very helpful as they include the perceptions of team members regarding their manager’s leadership strengths and areas of potential improvement. These assessments are anonymous and are not shared with the company, that is unless the manager chooses to do so.

360s and follow up leadership coaching do cost money, though not a lot, and the company must be willing to invest in its people. What better investment is there than helping our people develop?!

Regarding a manager’s responsibility for the development and success of her team members, I thought of personal principles mentioned to me by outstanding leaders. Mark Rusas, EVP of Willis Towers Watson, who several times has asked me to speak with his people, asking them to share with me their honest perceptions of his leadership, their ideas of how the work of team (already very successful) could be improved going forward and what professional learning and development opportunities could help them.  Sue Mahanor of Berkley Health Sciences, says “I only deserve an A if every member of my team earns an A.”  Al Anderson, formerly J&H, now Aon, has a principle, “As leaders, our satisfaction and success should come from the satisfaction and success of our team members”.

So, insightful and powerful!

In healthy companies and culture, managers at all levels are committed to the growth and success of their team members.

We want to create a culture of offering and requesting timely and honest feedback. There is an art to offering helpful feedback so the receiver does not become defensive or feel put down. The receiver must know we care and want to help. Done properly, we are being kind.

And requesting feedback requires our readiness to ask for help. We must have the humility to know we can always improve, all of us, and it is a strength to ask for feedback and help.

I very much admire this manager at the American Bible Society who spoke about her responsibility for and commitment to the development of her team members. I also greatly admire the society itself for it’s emphasis on intentional excellence and the people of the society helping each other learn and grow, professionally as well as in their personal lives. This is a healthy culture.

*To learn important information about her extensive research validating this, visit Christine Porath’s, professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, site, Also, I am currently reading her new book, Mastering Civility, which is full of important information. I believe it will inspire many senior executives to commit to improve their company’s corporate culture.