Employees Rate You?
by T. M. Georges
Everyone instinctively knows the difference between a manager and a leader. Managers keep the organizational machinery running smoothly. Leaders decide what the machinery is for. Management is the form; leadership is the substance. Leaders inspire action, teamwork, confidence, and creativity with their visions of the future. Look around your own organization. The leaders are easy to spot. They're the ones who keep everyone focused on outcomes, not processes, who set priorities and goals, who have the insight and courage to say what's important and what's not.
But where do top leaders come from? Some would say they're born, not made. Others would say from the top business schools. Ironically, few organizations offer leadership training or reward or encourage emerging leadership skills. Is there anything you can do to turn your managers into leaders? One strategy might be to seek guidance from those being led.
In hierarchichal organizations, everyone receives a formal performance evaluation from his or her supervisor, but few organizations provide a way for employees to rate the quality of the supervision they receive. What if performance evaluations worked both ways? Wouldn't direct feedback about supervisory quality give employees more responsibility for and control over their organization's effectiveness? And wouldn't managers become more sensitive to the leadership skills that count most in their own organization?
The survey below gives employees a chance to say which leadership skills are most important to them and to tell the boss how he or she is doing in those areas. Some bosses will feel threatened by such a survey. If you do, ask yourself what you might not want to hear. Some employees will legitimately fear retribution from honest assessments of their bosses' performance. Anonymity should therefore be an option. When appropriate safeguards are provided, such as a third-party interviewer, employees can honestly expresss their opinions.
Managers using this survey in their own organization may be tempted to interpret the results by simply adding up and weighting the numerical results. If you are so tempted, be aware that counting and list-making are substitutes for thinking and leadership. Your employees are offering you invaluable information that deserves your careful consideration. Use the results to open a dialog that could turn a supervisory relationship into a team effort that acknowledges common goals. It is no coincidence that leaders tend to stay in touch with the rank and file of their organizations, taking an active interest in day-to-day operations and often knowing staff personally.
The survey goes against some powerful psychological forces. Everyone naturally sees a supervisor as a parent figure and tends to act out his or her own parental issues with that supervisor. Most people are afraid of being punished for "talking back," which is why they are nervous about telling supervisors what they really think and feel. You can either reinforce those fears by acting like a parent (which is the only way some know to get the work done), or you can act like a partner and offer this survey as a tool for strengthening that partnership.
"You manage things; you lead people." -- Grace Hopper
Here are some needs and expectations one might have of a supervisor. Use
the two columns below to say (a) how important each particular need is to
you, and (b) how well the supervisor named below meets that particular need
or expectation. Score on a 0-5 scale, where a 0 means that the
need is not important to you at all, and a 5 if it is extremely important.
Similarly, rate the supervisor 0 if that need is not being met at all
and a 5 if it is being fully met (considering its importance). You
may wish to remain anonymous, if you fear retribution, but including your
name will call this supervisor's attention to your particular concerns and
identify areas where the supervisory relationship can improve.
Many more articles in Creative Leadership in The CEO Refresher Archives