To discover invisible managers, simply follow the mess they leave in their wake.
One of the precepts of good management is to make plenty of contact with direct reports and stakeholders. Contact, face-to-face is best, but if the manager is remotely located from an employee or key supplier, then contact by SKYPE, is okay, or any other online platform, especially if it facilitates video so parties can see the various nuances, gestures, facial features that make video so valuable.
Being visible reduces the chances of error in communications. It also goes a long way to reducing the daily anxiety experienced by every employee regarding work environment, performance appraisals, and plenty of other psychological constructs. [Employee anxiety can be as fundamental as, “Does my boss like me?” Or, “Is my boss building a case against me?”] Clarity of communications is one of the essentials to productivity among direct reports. Productivity, both personal productivity and team productivity, is vital for any manager to succeed.
Decades ago writers coined a term, MBWA, (Management By Walking Around). That still applies. Get out of your office. Walk around, talk to your people, Learn about yourself and the company by enjoying a very brief conversation with each of your direct reports. Emphasis is on brief. Managers who appreciate the need for an “open-door” policy will recognize this as an extension of their open-door policy.
Upon winning a promotion to our management ranks, one of my colleagues selected the notion of focus and setting aside blocks of time to concentrate on her own work. To ensure that time was treated as sacrosanct, she closed her office door and posted a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door handle. Can you imagine how her direct reports reacted to that?
Be seen. Get around. Move around. Talk to your direct reports, but don’t disrupt their work flow.
By being visible, by making visibility a tool in your management toolkit, you can make your people feel great, wanted, and trusted. It also gives your employees a chance to identify specific problems to you before those problems fester and mushroom into much costlier problems.