11.2012 - How Bosses Add Value

Look at almost any textbook on supervision and management and you will find a table of contents filled with topics like motivation, appraisal, influence, and discipline. 

Up until recently, there was little hard social science about what managerial behaviors impact the bottom line most directly.  The findings of a large study conducted in a large technology-based service area has been published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.  It provides new insights that can fundamentally shift the way we think about how bosses add value.

TEACH:   The study concludes that Teaching -- imparting better methods and skills -- is the quickest pathway to a more productive work force.  In fact, the study indicates that a manager's skillful teaching can boost performance by 130% and this boost continues even when the boss takes another assignment.  

PUT YOUR BEST WITH YOUR BEST:  The second finding applies more broadly to big businesses but the significance on small business should not be ignored.   Assign your best bosses to your best employees to boost organizational performance.

Matthew Yglesias, The Washington Post Small Business Columnist,  sums it up best:  ".....make it clear that teaching and learning are (at the core) of a good employee/boss relationship.  Good bosses don't just crack the whip or deliver a pep talk, they deliver concrete improvements in workers' ability to get the job done. 

Small Business section, Washington Post, 10/21/2012. 
Based on The Value of Bosses, published August 2012.

How to Create a Learning Organization

1.  Whenever you can, shed light on the situation to build deeper understanding.

2.  Share industry trends across the ranks.  Discuss implications.

3.  Build understanding of the customer profile, needs and values and how you are performing vis a vis competitors.

4.  When teaching, strive for high engagement.  People usually learn best by doing.  Teach in ways that emphasize practice. 

5.  Senior leaders employ lessons learned language tocreate a culture that builds capacity.