Secret Weapon of Top-performing Companies: Competent Managers

You might say I'm "statistics challenged." Yet even I can see by statistics that the perennial winning baseball teams have coaches with the highest percentage win records.

Take the 2006 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, for example. The Cards' manager, Tony LaRussa, has a .543 winning percentage after managing for 14 years. He is the only manager to win multiple pennants in both leagues and one of only two managers to win the World Series in both leagues. He is ranked third all-time for total number of wins.

The Chicago White Sox under Manager Ozzie Guillen won their first American League pennant since 1959, and their first World Series since 1917 with a 4-game sweep of the Houston Astros in 2005. Guillen has a .524 winning percentage after managing for seven years.

And consider "my" Minnesota Twins. Since Ron Gardenhire assumed the helm of the club in 2002, the Twins have won six division championships. (The team also lost a one-game playoff to the Chicago White Sox at the end of the 2008 season to determine that year's division champion.) As manager, Gardenhire's winning percentage record topped .550 in five of the eight full seasons he has led the team and only once did it slip—just barely!—below .500.

Time after time Gardenhire has brought out the best in his team making it into a championship club.

Like Baseball, Like Business
It's the same in business. Sometimes a company has so much talent it can survive poor management, but that is rare. As with baseball, if you want a good chance of succeeding you need talent, qualified managers and good leadership to bring out the best in your teams.

Why? Incompetent managers cost your company in errors, lost productivity, high turnover and low morale. (Remaining in a position when incompetent also damages a manager. Reaching a level of incompetence and not knowing how to go back, destroys a person's self-confidence and self-esteem.)

How can you avoid incompetence among your managers? Here are four suggestions:
• Hire/promote good management material to begin with
• Make sure your managers know your expectations
• Take quick action if they fail to perform to your expectations
• Help them be good managers

And if they don't make the grade? Ask them to give up their management stripes. Just like in the sports world.

Although—in my humble opinion—managers are fired too often in the sports world, professional team owners are on the right track. They hold their managers accountable for their team's results. No excuses. Business could learn from that.

Here's the Bottom Line
Sometimes it "feels" easier to ignore ineptness. Especially when you can't see its immediate effects.

But in my experience, incompetence inevitably damages a company's performance and hurts its bottom line

So my advice? Pattern your company after baseball where the best managers take their clubs to post season play. Hire and promote the most effective managers to lead your company to success.

Tips: How to Spot Competent Managers

Like winning coaches who develop championship teams year after year, successful managers in business are both talented and skilled.

So what signals a talented and skilled manager? Here are eight telltale signs:

  1. Good communication skills
    Good communicators realize that manager-employee communication is a two-way street. They listen without interrupting. They read subtle cues from other people's gestures.
  2. Strong leadership capabilities
    Competent managers speak the plain—though sometimes inconvenient—truth when people really need to hear it. They set an example. They are unafraid to bruise egos.
  3. Willingness and ability to adapt to change
    Change is difficult, but effective managers know how to handle it. They adjust to new circumstances. In crises, they seek solutions.
  4. Good relationship-building skills
    All relationships—personal and professional—require work. Good relationship builders:
    • Respect people's differences. They're tolerant.
    • Praise more than criticize (And when they do criticize, they focus on behavior not people.)
    • Do not embarrass others
    • Say what needs saying—though diplomatically—even when it's uncomfortable to say it
    • Regulate their emotions well, especially during times of stress
  5. Effective task management
    Effective managers know how to establish priorities and make sure work gets done. They see the big picture and plan the specific tasks required to get there. They skillfully assess their resources and allot time and materials needed. They motivate people on the job and ensure that each milestone and deliverable is accomplished on time and on budget.
  6. Sufficient production
    So that their teams produce and produce sufficiently, managers must have appropriate resources and funding. With these, they must bring several personal qualities to the task:
    • Technical knowledge to ensure that production demands are met
    • A sense of urgency
    • Decisiveness
    • Focus
  7. Able to develop others
    Developing other people's talents is an art and requires hard work. Further, it takes far more than merely showing up and hoping one's protégés will observe and learn. It takes commitment, the ability to deliver constructive criticism and being observant enough to note another person's habits, including the habits that need to change.
  8. Develops oneself
    Effective managers develop their own communication styles, organization skills or work habits. Without continually improving their own skills and talents, how can they ever recognize how important personal development is for their team?

Your Solution Toolbox: Use CheckPoint 360™ to Identify Competent Managers

Measuring What Matters

How are your managers doing? Do you know?

Here's how you can learn more about your managers' competency: Use assessment tools like Profiles International's CheckPoint 360™ to gather job performance evaluations from the people around your leaders—their bosses, their peers and the people they supervise.

From this feedback your leaders can compare others' opinions with their own perceptions, positively identify their strengths and pinpoint job performance areas needing improvement.

CheckPoint focuses on a manager's job performance in eight competency areas: communication, adaptability, task management, productivity, development of others, leadership, building relationships and personal development.

How does CheckPoint 360™ work?
Each participant completes an evaluation on the Internet or on paper, a process that takes about 15 minutes. Results are compiled in a report, which the manager receives.

Except for the boss, participants remain anonymous and are encouraged to be honest and objective in their responses.

To help the manager read, understand and effectively use the data for self-development, CheckPoint reports have colorful graphs and charts, and narrative descriptions of evaluation results. Further, its special personal growth section coaches managers, helping them improve performance in development areas.

The CheckPoint report also encourages managers to link directly into an online system called CheckPoint SkillBuilder, which takes them through a step-by-step process of developing a comprehensive and personalized development plan.

In short, CheckPoint 360™ can help you develop charisma in your managers.

To put CheckPoint360™ to work in your organization, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We'll help you learn how to:

Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations. Call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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