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What Great Managers Do Daily

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Bad management is estimated to cost the U.S. economy up to $398 billion annually.

Effective managers maintain large internal networks across their company. 

We measure the size of a person’s network based on the number of connections to other employees that they actively maintain. The primary algorithm we use to define a connection has both a frequency and intimacy threshold. Put more simply, in order to qualify as a connection, one must interact with another person at least twice per month in an email or meeting with five or fewer participants. This allows us to get a reasonably accurate view of the number of people an employee actually works with on a regular basis. We have consistently found that larger networks are correlated with a number of different positive business outcomes.

Great use of data:

Most companies understand the importance of having highly effective managers, but few invest heavily in training to help them get there. One reason is that it’s difficult to measure and quantify what good management actually looks like. While there has been a lot of great work done to identify qualitative traits of great managers — they create trust, focus on strengths, instill accountability, avoid politics, etc. — these traits don’t provide much insight into how great managers spend their time on a day-to-day basis that differentiates them.

But there’s new data that can help. Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics product analyzes metadata from the digital breadcrumbs of a customer’s millions of de-identified email and meeting interactions to generate an objective and granular set of behavioral KPIs across the organization (for example, how much time managers spend in one-on-ones with employees, how quickly they respond to emails from each direct report, how large and diverse there networks are, etc.).  Among other things, these KPIs can then be combined up with other data sets to understand what behaviors differentiate sub-populations of employees.

We recently had the opportunity to combine behavioral KPIs with employee engagement survey results for two Fortune 100 clients comprising thousands of knowledge workers. Inspired by Gallup’s findings about the influential role managers play on employee engagement, we wanted to understand what made managers of highly engaged employees different than the rest on a day-to-day basis.  The results were illuminating.

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