Managing Managers

By: Don Tyler

For many feedlot owners and managers, employee management has enough challenges of its own, and managing managers takes the difficulty level up another notch. The individuals in your business that manage your people have tremendous influence on your entire company culture, level of teamwork, employee satisfaction ratings, accountability, motivation and every other metric of employee engagement.

There are three key areas to focus on when managing managers: Directing/Delegating; Motivation, and Development. Their ability in each of these areas is crucial to their success—and yours. Let’s look at them individually.

A manager that can’t direct and delegate effectively, is just another production employee—but with the authority to tell other people what to do. Directing and delegating are two skills that work hand-in-hand to effectively balance duties, create a sense of urgency, keep people moving forward, help people reach their potential, provide encouragement and hold people accountable for their actions. The person’s behavioral style has an effect on how they express these skills. Some will be more collaborative in the process, while others are more authoritarian with a tendency to push their people. Both styles can be effective so long as they are tactful, positive, and set clear expectations. Astute managers realize the difference in delegating to a person with a significant level of experience, compared to a person with limited experience, and adjust their strategy accordingly.

You can’t motivate someone, but you can create an environment where they can tap into their own natural motivation. That atmosphere must be one where they can do their best work, gain a sense of purpose, have a certain level of autonomy and believe that they belong to something worth-while. Some managers may naturally accomplish this by providing consistency, being positive, and knowing their people at an individual level. Others will do this by setting challenging goals, being enthusiastic and stimulating innovation. The majority of today’s employees are motivated by an environment that celebrates victories, provides flexibility and recognizes group achievement.

Managers develop employees by supporting their long-term personal and professional growth. It is accomplished by providing resources, environments and opportunities that capitalize on their potential. Recent research shows that focusing on developing their strengths is more effective than trying to fix all their weaknesses.

Some will develop their employees by challenging them to do better, encouraging them to think big, instilling confidence and inspiring them to take on ambitious projects. Others will focus more on creating reliable plans for development, listening to people’s concerns, providing tactful feedback, being patient and allowing them to develop at a comfortable pace.

How Managers See Their Boss
As a business owner or operations manager, the managers under you don’t just look under them in the organizational chart, they also look up. What do they see and how effective are they in working with you?

Key to managing managers is knowing their behavioral style, levels of experience and personal goals for development. The way that they want to direct, motivate and develop others is the same way they want you to develop them. You are great at reading cattle to maximize their potential! Use those same skills in reading your employees and your managers to maximize their potential as well.

There are some newly designed computerized tools available for accurately measuring a manager’s preferences and abilities in all these areas. Send an e-mail to to learn more about these tools and how you can use them in your operation. Don Tyler is the owner of Tyler & Associates management coaching and President of Good Day’s Work safety training. For more information on these and other employee management topics, contact him at 765-490-0353 or