A simple framework for new (and old) managers to assess their team’s motivation and satisfaction levels.
Over the years I’ve observed a fundamental flaw in the workplace — There is zero support for new managers to develop the skills needed to effectively manage a team. Companies often promote great people into management positions but seem to overlook the fact that the promotion came as a result of doing great work as an individual contributor, not as a manager. This was true for me and I know it’s true for many new managers I’ve worked with. One of the most overused phrases preached in the professional space is:
“People don’t leave bad jobs, they leave bad managers”
And yet, nothing is done to address this “universal truth” we all seem to agree on. Companies are spending huge amounts of time and money trying to fill open roles, all the while ignoring the leaks.
So why are new managers left to fend for themselves? Why aren’t People Teams being pushed to provide the support and development needed for new managers to be effective? After all, so many Analysts, Product Managers, Engineers, etc… are managed by people who aren’t properly equipped to manage but are collectively responsible for a sizeable number of people — people I’m sure no company can afford to lose.
Looking inwardly I can only assume it’s because there isn’t a one size fits all development plan and most of the skills needed to be an effective manager are gained through experience.
This is a topic I’m particularly passionate about as being a great manager is something I’m constantly striving towards. I don’t believe it can ever truly be attained but I believe the pursuit of said attainment is a truly worthy cause.
The 5 P’s Model For New Managers
5 P’s sounds like something straight out of a marketing 101 book, but as I’ve never come across this particular definition on Google or elsewhere, I will assume it’s something I can coin.
The 5 P’s model for new managers is something I use to assess my own team’s individual motivation and satisfaction level and by sharing it here, I’m hoping to give new managers a simple framework to understand whether or not their employees are feeling balanced in their role.
I use the word balance because I believe that employees who have found balance in these 5 areas are more likely to be happy and settled, and prolonged periods of imbalance will result in poor performance, lack of motivation and eventually, departure. I wish I could put a number against “prolonged periods” but I can’t. No two individuals are the same, and the amount of time an individual is willing to endure the imbalance will vary. As a manager, it’s your job to spot when someone in your team is struggling with the imbalance. Note: Don’t confuse balance with comfort. I’m constantly looking for ways to push my team out of their comfort zone.
Package — fundamentally, employees need to feel like they’re fairly rewarded. This doesn’t always mean pay, although that’s probably the biggest area. Package can also refer to parental leave, flexible working, pension, holiday allowance, healthcare, working hours etc… for example, new parents don’t care about money, they just want to spend time with their new born. Elements of this one will be out of your control as they’ll be set at a company level, but keep an eye out, support where you can and be flexible.
People — Do the people your team work with make life difficult or joyful? Look for the signals. That one stakeholder who they always complain about. The one manager who takes the credit but passes the blame. The stakeholder who always asks for last-minute work and expects it delivered right away. The director who uses their position to get their way. A lesson I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that even nice people can create a toxic culture. Look at yourself. Do your team feel comfortable around you and do they trust you? You have to be their best friend, they just need to know you have their back.
Pace — Is the pace sustainable to ensure a healthy work/life balance? We all occasionally need to work late to meet a deadline but is this a regular occurrence for someone in your team. If so, find out what the root cause of this is and address it. You might need to review your prioritisation framework, hire someone or push back on stakeholders. It might even be as simple as coaching your team to understand the power of saying “no” more. Burnout is real and it can seriously affect someone’s mental health, so spot it quickly and fix it fast.
Progress — Everyone wants to feel like they’re progressing, either personally or professionally. This might be climbing the corporate ladder or just developing as an individual contributor. People’s aspirations will vary, but rest assured, everyone wants to feel like they’re making progress. It’s your job to spot when someone might be outgrowing their role and starting to think about what’s next for them. In these instances, have meaningful career conversations with them. What do they want to do? Can it be done in your organisation? What are their blind spots? Support them by freeing up their time or finding a mentor. Above all else, create opportunities for them to progress (sometimes this might be outside of your team or even company).
Purpose — You might argue that this point shouldn’t be on this list as it’s unlikely to affect everyone. But I disagree, I think people want to feel like they’re making a difference and that the work they’re doing matters and has meaning. Just to be clear, I’m not saying that work should be people’s purpose, I have two young boys who give me purpose as well as the meetup community I run, but if I’m going to be working 40–50 hours per week, I want what I do to matter. I believe that purpose is one’s life compass. It gives you direction and ensures that your progress is in the right direction.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to know as a new manager, but hopefully, it gives you a simple framework to think about your team’s motivation levels and satisfaction. Your team will be made up of remarkably unique individuals who won’t fit neatly into a box. Like with anything, these are just guidelines. Some of these will be more important than others depending on the individual so just be ready to be flexible.