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Bad Manager: The Nodder

Published Fri Feb 02 2018


Do you have a manager who thinks that they have mastered the art of communicating but really haven't? One who nods even when they don't agree or know what's going on? This can be avoided. In late 2015, ATD Research conducted a short survey of nearly 300 talent development leaders (managers and above) to identify the top skills most associated with successful frontline managers. The ACCEL skills were selected for inclusion in the framework because they had the highest percentage of participants indicating that each contributed to success in managing others to a high or very high extent. In fact, 83 percent of participants said that communication is the skill most related to success as a manager, followed by engagement (76 percent), listening and assessing (71 percent), accountability (70 percent), and collaboration (69 percent). In early 2016, ATD Research surveyed 847 talent development professionals about the ACCEL skills of managers in their organization. This group was different from the group of talent development leaders that was surveyed to establish the ACCEL framework. All data in the rest of this report are based on this sample’s responses. Nearly half of the participants indicated that they had more than 15 years of experience in the talent development field. Moreover, 30 percent of respondents identified themselves as senior leaders within their organization (executives and directors), and 40 percent were managers, supervisors, and team leaders. The Definitions: Accountability skills refer to performance management and the delegation of responsibility to direct reports. Managers who are adept at creating a culture of accountability encourage team members to be accountable for self-development and meeting their own development goals. Collaboration is defined as creating an environment and culture of teamwork (in this case, the team comprises the manager and direct reports). Managers who excel in this skill foster trust and relationships between all team members, clarify team roles, and encourage cooperation toward achieving a common goal (OPM 1997). By encouraging trust and relationship building between team members, direct reports can share knowledge with and learn from one another. Communication is defined as the exchange of information and feedback between managers and their direct reports. Communication also involves a willingness to engage in three types of conversations with employees: disciplinary, coaching, and praise. Managers who are adept at communication foster a transparent, open, and honest team atmosphere. At the individual level, effective communication—including targeted, actionable feedback—can build awareness and action toward better employee performance. Engagement is defined as motivating, inspiring, and involving one’s direct reports. Engaged employees understand their specific role and its importance. By engaging team members, managers will have direct reports who are psychologically committed to their work and who make positive contributions to their own development and the company (Crabtree 2013). Listening and assessing involves the information-gathering, critical-thinking, and processing skills of a manager during interactions with direct reports. Listening and assessing also encompasses emotional intelligence, which entails recognizing one’s own and others’ emotions and using emotional information to guide one’s behavior and assessments. Managers who are skilled at listening and assessing use these abilities to identify areas of strength and improvement in direct reports. Bob Wiltfong as "The Bad Manager": Bob is an American actor and comedian best known for his work as a correspondent on The Daily Show on Comedy Central, as well as appearances on Chappelle's Show and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Wiltfong was a true-life newscaster for 10 years, making him the first correspondent in Daily Show history to have worked as a traditional news reporter. Wiltfong has won 4 regional, individual Emmys for television performance and has been nominated for 14 others. He was part of The Daily Show's 2004 winning submission for the prestigious Peabody Award and was featured on the election year wrap up DVD put out by Comedy Central. He was a member of Neutrino, an improv comedy team in New York City. Additionally, Wiltfong has been featured in national commercials for AOL, Microsoft, Staples, Domino's Pizza and other corporate interests.

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