Does Management Presence Make a Difference to Performance?

By Bob Morrell on March 29, 2022

Many years ago, we were delivering management training to a large organisation. The training was on typical subjects useful to all managers; coaching, time management, leadership, etc. On one of the sessions, we remarked that attendance was a little lower than we were expecting. It turned out a decision was taken for one of the managers not to attend the training, and to stay on the sales floor. The belief was that their presence alone would push the performance of the sales team.

When I went to see the sales floor later, the manager concerned was completely separate from the team, doing something else, having no effect on the performance of the department, whatsoever.

This reminded me of when I first started in sales. The manager sat on a podium in the middle of the room, where they could look down on the sales team and be able to manage them from above. The idea was that when they were there, they were marshalling the combined efforts of the team. In reality, they were managing with a stick. When things were quieter we had a bit of banter, but not when the manager was there. She would sometimes allow some but only on her terms.

This is a fundamental point. Can’t we trust people to work? Are they children? If we go and do something else, and they misbehave, what are we? Their teachers? Their parents? Or are we all adults, simply doing a job?

If you have a team where they only perform when you’re there – then something is very wrong – time for a big talk…

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