Part II of a two Part Series: Developing your Leader’s is essential to Success
As stated in Part I, “business leaders must possess an intimate understanding of the human side of change management — the alignment of the organization’s culture, values, people, and behaviors — to encourage the desired results”.
While Part I covered how essential the corporate culture was to achieving business success, the second and final installment in the series will address the capital component, and employee engagement, through the development and training of the leaders.
According to a recent survey of over 1,000 professionals conducted by Mastery Works Inc., one of the top three factors affecting a respondent’s decision to leave an organization was whether the manager developed a trusting relationship with the employee.
Dissatisfaction with one’s direct supervisor has consistently been the main cause of employee turnover for the past two decades; although, depending on the culture of the organization, this phenomenon may not show up in exit interviews due to the fact that the outgoing employee doesn’t want to “rock the boat.” Furthermore, when pressed on their feelings toward their former supervisor, many have indicated that “it really doesn’t matter what I say because the company won’t take actions to change the situation anyway.”
Phrases employees used to describe great managers include:
- Family conscious
- Provided career opportunities
- Helped me learn from mistakes/Supported risk-taking
- Went to bat for me
- Talked about long-term goals
Phrases employees used to describe a poor manager include:
- Unsupportive/Ambivalence about their role and job responsibilities
- Doesn’t provide feedback except when it’s “pointing a finger” about something done wrong or not done at all
- Uninterested and/or uninvolved in my long term career goals; development and training isn’t part of the performance management process
- Doesn’t respect employees and/or doesn’t intervene with those employee’s that disrespect others
- Poor role-model
- Favoritism/some employees are treated differently than others; some employees can break or ignore policies while others don’t/can’t
The survey found that managers who respected and valued employees’ competency, paid attention to their aspirations, assured challenging work, valued the quality of work life, fostered an environment and culture that ensured open & honest communication, and provided chances for learning to ensure loyal and engaged employees. In these days of corporate scandals, having a manager with integrity and respect has become more important than ever.
The majority of those surveyed indicated they actually wanted to stay in their organization; they would rather not have to start all over again in another organization and rebuild their reputation, network, comfort level and confidence. However, if the desired conditions aren’t available within their current organization, they’ll move on — whether they want to or not. Ease of movement, of course, is likeliest for the most valuable and highly marketable employees. These are the first to leave and hardest to replace. And, managers are frequently the cause of dissatisfaction, disengagement and resignations.
While analyzing why people stayed or left an organization, five management practices emerged as hallmarks of managers with high retention rates. When the practices were present, employees stayed because they felt appreciated and knew how they could contribute to the organization now and in the future. When the practices were not regularly embodied and reinforced by management, loss of key people increased.
These practices include:
- Appreciating the uniqueness of each employee – values, interests, skills, knowledge, style, and work/life balance needs
- Assessing and giving frequent feedback to employees – performance, reputation and network
- Anticipating and speaking about the future of the organization – industry, organization, profession and job trends
- Aligning employee’s goals and aspirations with the mission and strategies of the organization
- Accelerating learning, mentoring, training and on-the-job development opportunities
- Role-Modeling; cares more for being liked than being respected (I routinely counsel new managers that, because your BFF and/or roommate is not a manager/leader, that relationship must stop at the front door and the role of manager must take precedent – at least if he/she wants to be respected)
In short, leadership comes from the top down. Poor management skills is the cause of most employee dissatisfaction and results in their poor performance, higher turnover, low morale, less productivity and negatively impacts the experience your customers receive. Therefore, if the CEO isn’t modeling those behaviors referenced above, the likelihood of lower level managers possessing these same types of behaviors is extremely low.
So, what are the core competencies of a great manager?
You know you a have a great manager if he or she:
- Appreciates and speaks about the unique talents, values, and interests of their people to the individual and with the team
- Assesses strengths and weaknesses of each employee and coaches them on how to leverage their strengths – right job, right team, right responsibilities and projects
- Anticipates changes and trends in the industry and core professions and helps people prepare for those changes – talks about what changes are coming months before they become a reality
- Aligns organization needs and long-term career aspirations of their people – talks about strategies and objectives of the enterprise in ways that spark personal learning and ambition
- Accelerates development and learning through frequent career discussions and development, customers, trial and error, peers
Shares high performers with other parts of the organization – opens doors and builds networks with colleagues, customers and leaders
Is well known and respected by other key players in the industry and organization – a leader in their field not just holding down a management position.
Training and development of managers
In developing your management team it is important to recognize that most people will need some help and training to be able to fulfill the new role(s) required of them – especially if they are being promoted from within an organization.
Formal training may be appropriate to increase their specialist knowledge, but the main support will probably be to help them grow into their new management role with confidence. It’s critical for those first-tier supervisors to gain an adequate understanding of employee motivation; behavioral interviewing; how to conduct effective performance management inclusive of coaching, counseling and discipline; and a working knowledge of the various state and deferral employment laws that dictate the rights of each employee.
There is a wide range of training options now available, including formal courses run externally or in-house. Internal, less formal training sessions can also prove useful, and individuals might benefit from on-the-job training, distance learning, or part-time college courses.
In addition to defined skills training, some thought should be given to developing team spirit and training managers in diversity and flexibility. Team-building exercises can play an important part in helping the management team to better understand and communicate with each other.
Where to start?
Some of the most effective methods for obtaining a “benchmark” on what competencies your management team already possess as well as those skills that could benefit from further development include the following:
- Need analysis conducted by a qualified Trainer/Consultant that’s able to identify what core competencies are necessary to be successful at each level of the leadership team.
- Conduct an employee survey that focuses on employee satisfaction, staff development and how they feel about their respective managers.
- Partner with a known vendor and develop an online 360 degree feedback tool that allows employees, managers, owners, customers/clients and anyone else you might want to throw into the equation to provide anonymous and confidential feedback on a number of topics. These tools are extremely valuable in surfacing critical issues and help them in identifying their priorities with regards to developing and training their leaders.
On the other hand, if your organization has, until now, been unable to provide your management team with adequate training, then you might be well served with a leadership series that’s been extremely popular with a host of clients in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Washington and California.
Mike Russell is a seasoned professional with three decades of experience in the fields of HR and OD. In addition to having a career trajectory of HR Generalist to a VP within ten years, Mike also has a long and successful background as a Consultant/Business Partner to CEO’s, Presidents and Executive Directors in both the private and non-profit communities across a wide spectrum of industries.
As the sole-proprietor and owner of Organizational Development Solutions (ODS), Mike partners with business leaders committed to insulating their organization(s) from potential liability, increasing organizational effectiveness and adding shareholder value.
Posted 11/29/06 Jobing.com/SanDiego (a Blog for small employers)