Creating Conscious Managers
I firmly believe that if we are going to make this the world we want to live in, we have to create more conscious managers. Yes, I said managers. It's true that conscious leaders are important but I believe that the real power of change lies with the managers. When managers are conscious, they naturally create engaging workplaces, bringing out the best in their staff and their organizations.
The data supports this—the #1 reason people leave a job is because of a poor manager. People leave a boss, not a company. I recently worked with a woman, Heather, who told me, "I once had the most amazing manager and that job was the best job I ever had. I was excited to come to work and I gave 150% every day. Then I got a new boss, and that same job became the worst job I ever had. I was gone in less than a year.”
And Heather’s story is not unique. When I consult, I can tell how healthy the organization is by how many conscious managers there are. Managers create the culture and drive all of the metrics that matter—productivity, profit, customer satisfaction, retention of top performers, etc. If you have conscious managers, you will have a great culture and amazing results.
What are the hallmarks of a conscious manager? They have emotional intelligence, they use coaching to tap into the wisdom and potential of their people, and they see their people as a mirror of their management skills. In other words, if the team is struggling in some way, they don’t engage in “blame and shame” but rather look at themselves to see what they need to be doing differently.
What surprises me is how many leaders and organizations don’t realize that conscious management can be learned. They have a “we get what we get” attitude—sure, they may provide some management training but they don’t spend effort intentionally building a team of conscious managers.
But it’s not only possible to create conscious managers, I would say it’s imperative. Many say our society is on the edge of a great tipping point and I believe that more great managers will push us over to achieving the world we hunger for.
Here are my four steps for creating conscious managers.
1. Teach emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is the mother skill that the rest of the plan rests on. While some people have natural gifts in this area, you can actually teach managers to be emotionally intelligent and raise their EQ. As they do, they can then raise the EQ of the rest of the employees. You might want to utilize my lynda.com course Leading with Emotional Intelligence or some of the great books by Daniel Goleman.
2. Train managers how to coach.
We use the word “coach” a lot in the workplace but there is a difference between directing and coaching. True coaching rests on the belief that employees have their own answers and wisdom. Thus, the coach’s job is to ask questions that help unlock the employee’s potential. Make sure you provide training that is certified by the United Coaching Federation. I also recommend Lisa Gates' course Coaching and Developing Employees.
3. Hold managers accountable.
Your performance management process should hold managers accountable. They should be evaluated by competencies related to conscious management like emotional intelligence, coaching skills, ability to build cohesive teams, the retention of top talent, and so on. This means that you need to create a 360 process where each manager’s direct reports evaluate their manager’s skills. It’s the employees, and only the employees, who can tell you if someone is a conscious manager.
4. Reward your good managers.
When the data shows you who the excellent managers are, reward them. Often, when a manager is good, leaders respond by giving them more and more work (people and projects) that the mediocre managers can’t handle. This just burns out your good people and you’ll lose them! Instead, focus on retaining them by rewarding their success with perks that inspire them. And invite them to help you raise the skills of the others through teaching, training and mentoring. They should become the standard by which the others are judged.
If you need more convincing that creating conscious managers makes a difference, read the book Firms of Endearment. It provides all kinds of great research and data on "how world class companies profit from passion and purpose." While the phenomenal success of those companies may start at the top, it’s the work of the managers that makes it a reality. And if your organization is not blessed with conscious leaders who drive these ideals through their vision and decisions, you can still create an amazing workplace by creating conscious managers.