How to manage managers: why everyone needs a performance review

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Being a manager requires a certain skill set, but managing a manager is on a whole new level. It may not seem like managers need to be ‘managed’ or review by performance managers but it is wholly necessary if you want a smooth running office and successful business.


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Being a manager requires a certain skill set, but managing a manager is on a whole new level. It may not seem like managers need to be ‘managed’ or review by performance managers but it is wholly necessary if you want a smooth running office and successful business.

You will find that much of the performance management training course content speaks about delivering honest, ongoing, ethical and fair reviews. These reviews are vital for managing your managers but are not the only way to manage your managers. Outlined below is some helpful advice on how to manage your managers.

Lead and coach
One sure-fire way to manage how your managers perform is to lead and coach them, setting an example for the behaviour you prefer in your business. Provide vision, guidance and insight but avoid becoming too involved in their daily activities; after all, they are hired to manage, right?

Your role as a leader and coach is to set goals and expectations for managers, with the support of seniors and CEOs. In order for this coaching and leading method to be successful, you must try not to micromanage your managers but rather give them advice on how to perform tasks or how to improve a strategy they have in place.

Give them a performance review
This may sound counterintuitive, giving a performance review to a manager, but it can work wonders for their resolve and morale – especially if the criticism provided is constructive and helpful. Performance management training can help you to deliver reviews that are helpful rather than hurtful.

A performance review does not have to be a negative thing and can help your managers to see their faults and make changes to be more effective in their roles. A performance manager can offer insights into how managers are performing, give advice on how to improve in areas and let you know where your managers are excelling. Offer them praise for good work, instilling a strong work ethic into them and showing them that you value their contributions.

Watch your managers in action
If you truly want to see how to  ‘manage’ or instruct your managers, then you will need to watch them in action. This does not have to be intimidating. You can simply spend time in the office watching as your staff goes about daily business.

You can occasionally observe check-ins and team meetings, watch your manager give other employees feedback and conduct job interviews together. It is important to explain to your managers that you are not trying to micromanage them or criticise them, you are trying to learn their managerial style in order to provide feedback. Managing your managers does not mean breathing down their necks, but rather observing their actions and offering guidance.

Get to know your manager’s teams
One way to understand a manager is to get to know their team(s). The team members will be able to provide you with a different insight into how your managers approach their work and their colleagues.

Asking the teams about how their managers make them feel (supported, unhappy or empowered) will also allow you to ascertain how your managers are performing, and if any changes need to be made. You will need to allow these employees to get to know you as their superior, as this will allow them to feel comfortable with you and talk to you if they feel their team manager needs help in a situation. Remember that you do not have to become everyone’s best friend but rather build up a rapport with the teams.

Ask them what they need to succeed
Asking your managers what they need to succeed in your business shows that you respect them and trust their instincts. You are showing that you believe in their course of action, building self-confidence and ultimately leading to better management practices.

Tools, resources, feedback, praise, support, clarity: whatever your manager needs, you should aim to provide it for them within reason. This means that you will need to ensure that your managers understand the ‘what, why and how’ of each project they are assigned. Make sure instructions are clear and understandable, and that all processes are simple and efficient.

Final words
Speaking to your managers one-on-one and asking them exactly what they need is an effective way to manage their goals and their managing method. Watching them in action and getting to know their teams will offer you pertinent insight into how they operate. Giving a performance review can help them to make positive changes in their strategies.

You should try to lead and coach them in what you see as acceptable behaviour and management tactics. As their superior, you need to set an example for them to follow. Managers thrive on creative and constructive criticism, and if you provide them with this they will surely flourish.


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