It’s often reported that employees leave their managers, not the organisation. The manager is the person, more than anyone else, who help others thrive, increase employee engagement and determine the success for individuals and the business. Or they can demotivate and drive employees away, even to the competitor.
High turnover statistics, especially when there are significant losses of the top performers, will often encourage changes to pay, bonuses, incentives etc. But there should be more questions arising from reviewing exit interviews or investigating how many conflict issues/tribunals are caused by direct managers.
And even when we know it’s the manager that makes the most difference, why are we not ensuring that they have the time and skills to lead (and lead effectively)?
So many leaders have to make the day-to-day decision about whether they do all the tasks, actions, targets, goals, budgetary requirements , or whether they motivate and develop their team. More could be done to appreciate the demands and support our managers in their development.
I’ve met and worked with numerous managers who have put the leading part of their role to one side due to time constraints and business demands, or who have spent the day doing the leading and after hours trying to catch up on the “work”. But this obviously can’t be sustained in the long term, and we need to reduce the conflict between the priorities of people and task management wherever possible.
A CIPD survey highlighted that 28% of line managers face this conflict between the organisation and the interests and/or well-being of their team members (and going up to 33% in large organisations). Furthermore, 43% of HR professionals said that the senior executives don’t recognise why leadership training is key to delivering an organisation’s business strategy.
A leader’s role is a difficult one, but vital to the well-being of the employees and the organisation’s success. Many statistics show how employee engagement significantly improves the productivity and efficiencies of organisations, as well as P&L including cost benefits of improved tenure. Losing top performers, or losing the number of people willing and able to be good leaders, isn’t a long-term option for successful organisations.
Additionally, leaders and managers may also have a natural tendency for preferring the work/tasks or the people management side of their role, and may need encouragement and development to step outside their comfort zone, to improve overall results.
Businesses therefore could start to address the balance between the demands from tasks with the demands of the individuals through discussing the following:
- In your performance reviews, how much weight is given to achieving people management skills versus performance objectives?
- Are the goals and achievements set weighted to the same proportion?
- What action do you take in response to poor feedback on managers?
- What leadership skills are assessed before promoting individuals to management roles?
- How are you ensuring new managers are supported and developed?
- How do you assess ongoing leadership development?
- How can you review managers’ preferences for and strengths in task and people management and develop the necessary skills, behaviours and confidence to balance the requirements?
- How do you ensure that leadership skills training is fully integrated into the working day, and not just something left back in the classroom because “life takes over”?
What ways are you finding to help balance the task and the leadership needs within your team or organisation?