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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

How do I gauge my performance as a boss?

It can however be hard to gauge this ourselves, as our self-perception does not always match that of others

It can be hard to know how you are performing as a manager. Andrew Burton /Getty Images / AFP
It can be hard to know how you are performing as a manager. Andrew Burton /Getty Images / AFP

I've been working in my management role for two years now and would love to know how I'm faring as a boss. I can't ask my team this question so how can I gauge how I am doing? NW, Dubai

It is valuable in itself that you are interested to know how you are faring as a boss, as being self-aware is crucial as a manager.

It can, however, be hard to gauge this ourselves, as our self-perception does not always match that of others. Therefore feedback from others, in particular those whom you are currently managing, would be optimal to gain validated insights of how they are experiencing you as a manager. If you feel that you cannot ask your team at this point, your own awareness and self-reflection can be useful and, indeed, an essential ongoing process as people, roles and organisations continuously change.

When you are self-reflecting, it is often useful to have a reference point. Fortunately, most people have plenty of experience of management styles, having reported to different managers over time. Some of these styles you would have experienced as positive and enabling, while others perhaps less so, and this is a good starting point in the absence of direct feedback from your own team members. Reflect upon which experiences you have found positive, how they were helpful and why. Which of these do you feel you are currently applying when managing your own team and which do you think you could comfortably aspire to integrate in the future? Similarly, what have you found unhelpful and why? What would you like to avoid that could have a negative impact on your team? Being able to honestly reflect and assess what you think you are doing well and what you could do differently may begin to give you a good indication of where you are at today.

Our self-reflection and awareness can take us so far but in many teams, and particularly here in the UAE, we may have team colleagues from different cultural backgrounds, as well as generations – all of whom can have very different pictures and expectations of management.

Given this more complex management environment, a more comprehensive assessment would also be useful to help you gauge your current management effectiveness. Fortunately there are a number of good management questionnaires available online, and a self-assessment questionnaire will also help you to explore the wider field of necessary and important dimensions of management.

It is worth pointing out that people often use the word and concept of management interchangeably with leadership. However, in reality and practice they are quite different. A frequent pattern that we observe in the UAE is that people are often over-managed and under-led, leading to underperforming teams and the loss of talent. This is particularly true among the Gen Y or millennial team members, who, as shown from our regional research, quickly move on from ineffective team leaders. Given the young demographic of the UAE, if you cannot effectively lead millennials today, you cannot effectively lead. This then can give rise to the career constraining phenomena of "derailment", where managers do not realise their full potential within their roles and careers, and is typically characterised by managers who only focus on managing, rather than also leading their teams.

There is a lot of helpful online literature on the difference between management and leadership, which will be well worth exploring. Essentially, leadership is about being able to set a vision and inspire people towards a better future or outcome, where management ensures the accomplishment of tasks and processes.

I said at the beginning that it is valuable that you are curious about your effectiveness as a boss and this should be an ongoing question, as we increasingly live in highly dynamic and continuously changing working environments, requiring us to constantly evolve our management and leadership capabilities.

Doctor’s prescription:

Being aware of your own strengths and areas for development will always ensure growth as both a manager and leader and increase your overall efficacy in your role. You may also want to consider asking a trusted colleague, peer or mentor for detailed feedback and to use this person as a sounding board for specific challenges or situations that you may face.

Yolande Basson is an executive coach and consultant for Ashridge Executive Education Middle East

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