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Of course! That’s probably your first answer, but the question isn’t “do people want to work for your company but rather for you —personally—you. The answer might surprise you. Julian Birkinshaw took the Net Promoter Score concept and applied it to people and created the Net Management Promoter Score system with basically asks: ”Would you recommend to a friend or colleague to work for your boss?” How would you answer? How do you think your employees would answer?

Taking NPS to the human level

This might seem a tad harsh and unfeeling, but the article from the MIT Sloan Review—Would Your Employees Recommend You?—makes a solid case for how this technique could both help organizations and shine a light on management issues. The question asked is simple:

“How likely is it that you would recommend your line manager to a colleague, as someone they should work for in the future?” (1 = not at all, 10 = extremely likely.)

Like the retail version—which companies like Apple swear by as part of their success—this single question boils everything down to whether or not you’d want a friend to work for your boss. In many cases employees might like the company, but wouldn’t want their friend to have to work for their boss. Julian Birkinshaw explains the rational like this:

But I believe there is also a third reason for the paucity of high-quality management in many large organizations: Most managers have a remarkably narrow or ill-thought-out understanding of how their employees actually look at the world. Imagine what would happen if managers could get inside their employees’ minds and relate to their genuine motivations, needs and fears. My guess is that those managers would start doing a dramatically better job. Not only would they know how to motivate each individual employee, but they would also become less self-centered. Ultimately, your role as a manager is to enable your employees to do their best work. And it is pretty hard to do that if you believe the world revolves around you.

Is this a new fad or a brilliant piece of insight? Birkinshaw suggests through his work with Hoffmann-La Roche that understanding the score helped not just the manager, but the company weed out managers who might be performing well but were also costing the company in employee morale. How is this different than the traditional 360 review process? Simplicity. If you’ve ever completed a 360 review, you know it can be a laborious process that isn’t just time consuming to complete, but to compile as well. In a single NMPS question you can’t hide from the fact that the people who work for you wouldn’t recommend you to a friend. Is this a true measure of management effectiveness? From the success of NPS in the retail world, it seems that it might very well be a valuable technique. People under great leaders will follow them into battle (real or metaphoric) and know that the leader will do the right thing. Who wouldn’t recommend that kind of leader to a friend? However if you have a leader where people are successful in spite of him or her, that’s a different story.

Not a popularity contest

The key part here isn’t that NMPS is for managers to become everyone’s friend and buddy—it’s to be a better leader. We’ve all worked for people who we liked as people, but as managers were terrible. Great to hang out with and have a beer, but if it came to having your back when times were tough—nope. Now who would you rather work for? Who would you rather be the person who was managing your people? It’s the leader who has earned the respect of employees through hard work, mentoring, making tough but fair decisions, and having people’s backs’ when it counts.

Net Management Promoter Score might be crazy, but it also might be just the ticket to kick lagging managers in the pants and help your company become a company of leaders and not laggards.

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Inscape Consulting Group
Greg Nichvalodoff, BSc. BM (Honors), MBA, PCC, CMC
Office: 604.943.0800
Mobile: 604.831.4734