One of the largest correlational studies of managers and management has recently been concluded and reported by Dr. Jay Hall and colleagues of Teleometrics International, a Woodlands, TX-based publisher and developer of psychological learning instruments. Hall’s study— actually a series of studies—compared test answers from a total of 16,000 high-, medium- and low-achieving managers on seven of TI’s test instruments.
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The measure of achievement for these studies—dubbed the Achieving Manager Project— was a modified version of Dr. Benjamin Rhodes’ Managerial Achievement Quotient (MAQ). The MAQ, a measure also used by Blake ‘and Mouton in their grid work, is essentially an index calculated by dividing an individual’s age into his or her rank or management level in the organization.
The tests Hall administered to this large sample of managers, who represented 50 corporations and management levels from CEO to first-line supervisor, were designed to sample:
1. managerial beliefs about people;
2. a three-part motivational analysis, covering a) managers’ personal motivations, b) their motivational concerns regarding subordinates, c) the consequent effect of these on subordinate motivational profiles;
3. managers’ use of participative methods;
4. interpersonal competence; and
5. managerial style, which was measured as a separate entity but which also was used as a basis for combining all the areas into an overall achievement picture.
Briefly, here’s what they found
Low and moderate-achieving managers differ greatly from high achievers in terms of personal beliefs about people. Low achievers are characterized by pessimistic outlooks and a basic distrust of both the intent and competence of their subordinates. High achievers, on the other hand, display virtually no distrust and seem, on the whole, to view their subordinates optimistically, expecting not only that they would do their best but that their best would be of high quality.
It was determined that a manager’s personal motivation and his feelings about what motivates others are similar. That is, those things in the job situation that seem important to the manager and that motivate him are the things he consciously and unconsciously emphasizes in his relation¬ships with subordinates—or that he at least thinks about when he decides to “motivate” someone.
The research results indicated that high-achieving managers are concerned with those aspects of the job that provide a sense of personal fulfillment. They talk about these things with their subordinates and attempt to structure the work situation so that subordinates can get personally involved and find the same kinds of fulfillment.
Moderate achievers tend to be concerned with status and with the symbols necessary to salve their egos. Their attempts to motivate subordinates center around the provision of the same kinds of symbols. Low achievers, primarily concerned with job security, emphasize this to their subordinates. Decisions made by low achievers, even about things outside the workplace, are often dictated by their feelings about whether or not their jobs are secure.
Results indicated that high-achieving managers rely heavily on the participative ethic, while low and moderate achievers avoid involving their subordinates in decision making. The important thing here is that the work climates generated by those who do and those who do not allow subordinate participation are substantially different. Subordinates who are allowed to participate feel committed to and responsible for decisions and are highly satisfied with their work. Sub¬ordinates who are not allowed to participate have exactly the opposite reactions.
High achievers view interpersonal relationships, whether with superiors, co-workers or subordinates, in an open fashion. They are as willing to express their own ideas to superiors as they are to listen to the ideas of their subordinates.
Moderate achievers are preoccupied with their own ideas and feelings and typically listen closely only to superiors. They tend not to be interested in the ideas of subordinates and often behave as though that kind of interest would be a sign of weakness.
Low achievers tend to avoid meaningful communications as much as possible. Instead of contributing and listening for new ideas, they quote policy and the procedure manual. Often, their major contributions are reasons why something cannot be done.
The measurement of managerial style centered around the issues of people versus production, what kind of relationship the manager perceived between the two and which of the two he emphasized. It turns out that high achievers exhibit substantial concern for both people and production. To them, production goals and people’s needs are equally important; and it is as essential that production goals be met as it is that the people involved in the production find personal fulfillment. To these managers, it is not at all incongrous to expect the two to occur simultaneously.
Average achievers showed high concern for production and low concern for people. Getting the job done is crucial, but they have little consideration for the people doing it. Of course, people realize this and usually resent it. Low achievers, on the other hand, are primarily interested in self-preservation and are not genuinely concerned with either people or production.
Obviously, Hall’s work must be viewed with the same cautions one exhibits toward all correlational studies. But for the HRD person, it’s encouraging to hope that Hall is at least somewhat correct when he concludes:
The portrait of the Achieving Manager which emerges from our study is that of an individual employing an integrative style of management, wherein people are valued just as highly as accomplishment of production goals…wherein candor, openness, sensitivity and receptivity comprise the rule in interpersonal relationships rather than its exception…wherein participative practices are favored over unilaterally directive or lame duck prescriptive measures. Moreover, from a motivational standpoint, the Achieving Manager needs to find meaning in his work and strives to afford such meaning to others. Higher order, constructive incentives are his motivational preoccupations, while his less-achieving comrades remain mired in fantasies of defense and self-preservation.
But the results of our study go beyond an impressionistic, ill-defined treatment of the achieving condition; their statistical level of confidence is such that we may say with assurance that if a manager is more concerned about factors that are peripheral to his work than he is about the nature of the work itself, if he is under wraps, secretive, unconfronting and in¬sensitive in his relationships with others; if his subordinates, while mirroring his motives and interpersonal practices, reap none of the rewards associated with that sense of proprietorship which participation affords, and if the manager remains more concerned about procedures and precedence than about productivity and the quality of life in his organization there is a significant probability that he is a Low Achiever. But, given a willingness to change, he need not remain so.
We are just as secure in our observation that to achieve, one must employ achieving practices and eschew self-serving, defensive self-authorized techniques. He must first embrace that collaborative stance which flows from the view that work— his own and that of his subordinates—is the source of challenge, meaning and opportunity for self-expansion. Through his practices he must acknowledge that his subordinates, as people at work, possess interests and expertise and he must create openings for their expression and incorporation into the work flow. He must be receptive to innovation, sensitive to the dynamics of relating and willing to take risks. And finally, ever conscious of his role of norm setter, the manager who would achieve must look to his subordinates for his reflection: truly achieving managers produce achievers. The data could not be more clear.
Source : Ron Zemke, Training Magazine, February 1979.
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