The Makings of a Good Manager

Research recently conducted by 3D Group, a consulting firm of industrial and organizational psychologists as part of the effort to enhance and improve their Corporate Leaders assessment tool, found that managers are more highly rated for their ability to manage processes and results than for their interpersonal and team-building skills. Competency related to work processes differed significantly between junior and senior managers, however, the results indicated that a manager’s gender did not affect job-related competency in any way.

“Most people believe intuitively that more experienced managers will be better at managing processes and results. One would hope that we could also confirm that in a quantitative way,” said Dr. Rose, founder of 3D Group. “Although we found the effects of seniority to be fairly weak, senior managers did tend to score higher on competencies in the Work Process area – especially Business Focus.”

Analysis of the data collected from more than 12,800 respondents, rating the performance of more than 1,000 managers from a variety of industries and geographic regions, indicate senior managers tended to score higher in areas of Work Processes such as Business Focus, Customer Focus and Results Orientation, than their junior colleagues. No significant differences were indicated between senior and junior managers in Interpersonal competencies, such as Team Leadership, Inclusiveness and Developing Talent. On average, managers consistently scored highest in the areas of Business and Customer Focus. The lowest scores were recorded in the interpersonal areas, including Developing Talent, Inclusiveness, and Team Leadership.

“The differences in normative averages were relatively modest, from 4.10 to 4.33 on a 5-point scale. But because they were remarkably consistent from 2003 [the last time the survey was conducted] to 2005,” Dr. Rose explains, “we can be fairly confident that no radical change in nation-wide management skills have occurred since the original data were collected. Also, the fact that managers scored highest in the areas most clearly linked to business outcomes is not likely mere coincidence, given the fact that management compensation and promotion often depend on business results. One might interpret this as confirmation that companies are fairly good at identifying and developing leaders. On the other hand, some would argue that low average scores for leading teams and developing talent show a misplacement of priorities, one that might have long-term consequences for companies concerned with retention of the employees who report to those managers.”

The Leadership Navigator series provides effective, easy-to-use tools for assessing and developing job-related competencies at all levels, from individual contributor to senior executives. Assessments are based on short, user-friendly surveys of an individual’s co-workers, customers, supervisors and direct reports and result in reports assessing competencies in threes areas: Work Process-related, Interpersonal, and Core traits.

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