Written by
Changeboard Team

Published
15 Feb 2010

Management by objectives how can managers incorporate employees' career management and personal pre

15 Feb 2010 • by Changeboard Team

Managers need to understand their teams

In todays flatter organisational structures, there is less opportunity for traditional vertical career progression. Managers more than ever before need to understand and tap into the personal drivers, values and motivation of their team if they are to retain and use the discretionary effort (i.e. what people want to do, over and above what they have to do) available to them.

Any team will collectively contain areas of strength and weakness allied to specific technical skills/knowledge, as well as behaviours (competencies) required for high performance. The problem is that individual career goals and the needs of the organisation are often quite different things.

Organisational versus individual priorities

The organisation is concerned with customers, profit and loss, efficiency of operations and productivity. The individual also has these concerns, but they may not always be front of brain. Equally important is their concern for their career, their development, their need to be recognised and rewarded for their efforts and outputs. 

Unfortunately in any team these individual concerns may place individuals in competition with each other due to differences in attitudes, preferences for how things should be done and motivators. An added complication may be that individual role requirements may also conflict with the needs of the individual.

Linking employees' needs with business goals

The role of the employer is to try to balance the needs of the organisation with the needs of the individual. Organisational needs are usually defined through strategic goals and aligning work streams and role profiles to these. How to integrate individual needs, career aspirations, personal preferences and motivators is less well defined.

Successful managers use a range of tools and techniques to build into their teams objectives an acknowledgement of individual differences and desires within their team when allocating short, medium and long term business objectives. By creating a tangible link between the needs of the individual (their career goals/aspirations) and the needs of the organisation they can:

  • play to the strengths of individual team members
  • acknowledge and plan around team/individual blind-spots/weakness
  • test the match between individual needs and business goals
  • set in place support strategies for people taking on stretching assignments
  • identify suitable contingency plans, and alternative options for the team

How can managers motivate teams to excel?

The question for anyone leading a team is how to ensure that they achieve their objectives. The yearly performance review focuses generally on hard measures, i.e. have you achieved what is written on the page, and then finding out if not why not, and setting of next years objectives. This is a tangible transactional type conversation, managers can run it by the numbers. Where it fails to engage the individual is in terms of whats in it for me?

Unsurprisingly, people want to know how they can benefit from the work they provide to an organisation. People in the main are motivated to come to work and do a good job. The role of the manager is to understand what motivates and drives an individual to put in extra discretionary effort that can make the difference between a good job and an excellent one.

Moving your career forward role of the manager

This other piece of the people puzzle is about understanding what individuals want from their work experience after all for most of us it will last 40+ years! Every individual has strengths and weaknesses, passions and drivers that will influence their behaviour, attitude to change and desire to progress and do interesting work.

The role of the manager and the wider organisation is to understand these and build them into a career management strategy to keep the individual concerned engaged and motivated in their current role and on the path to achieve their future career aspirations.

Understanding your employees tools & techniques

There are many tools and techniques out there that managers and organisations can use to identify individual differences. These insights can then be used to understand and engage their people through recognising what they want from their career and how they like to work.  Some examples of useful tools and techniques include:

Schroder high performance behavioural model
Harry Schroders framework provides a breakdown of ability against 11 behaviours which has been developed into an overall benchmark score against a talent index. The talent index is used to set benchmarks for specific roles and also to enable comparisons between high performance in different organisations and at different stages of growth. For example, to be a high performing technical specialist in a high-growth, complex business may require an index score of 65 versus an index score of 55 for a high performing sales role. This type of behavioural model can also be used to underpin 360 degree feedback and employee engagement surveys.

Behavioural event interviewing
A semi-structured interview in which the interviewee is asked to describe in detail a number of recent business issues/Challenges, how they tackled them and what outcomes were achieved. The interviewer probes and records the evidence, then later classifies and evaluates what was said to develop an individual behavioural profile which can be benchmarked to assess and predict future performance, current strengths and development needs and key gaps and/or blind-spots. 

Psychometric tools used to assess employees

Orpheus: 'What I like to do'. Provides insight into how an individual's personal preferences shape the interactions they have with the team. Orpheus is designed to identify personality at work. It can uncover detail about factors such as typical response to stressors, the level of openness to new experiences, the degree to which an individual enjoys change and attitude to risk. It also has a scale that measures integrity.

Intrinsic: 'What I will do'. Provides insight into personal values and drivers. Intrinsic motivation is a largely unrepresented area of assessment, but it is an absolute must for accurate assessment. Different roles and organisations have different motivational characteristics. The trick is to link what people will do (their intrinsic motivation) with what they are capable of doing (their intellectual ability) and with their behaviour and personality and finally with what they know how to do (their skills and expertise).

Hogan Development Survey: Provides insight into how individuals may react in counter productive ways when placed under pressure. Known colloquially as the dark side, it measures typical potential de-railers (i.e. the types of behaviour that individuals may demonstrate when pushed to the extremes). It identifies potential risk factors that may be the root cause of dysfunctional personal behaviour or contribute to wider maladaptive behaviour in a team. A classic example is that of Gerald Ratner, formerly chief executive of the major British jewellery company Ratners Group, standing in front of his shareholders and declaiming that his best selling product was rubbish (confidence turning into arrogance believing he could get away with anything) leading to the fall of this particular high street chain.

Career planning key to employee engagement

Managers can help to shape their teams by engaging with individuals to understand what they want to achieve from their career. Established tools and techniques can be used to identify individual differences in terms of preference, motivators and behavioural strengths.

However it is the wider, more intangible conversation about career management and aligning current work and opportunities to future career goals that is most likely to keep individuals engaged, performing and motivated in the long term.