They lead teams, coordinate projects, discipline and terminate employees, hire and onboard new recruits, coach future leaders, and oversee workforce compliance activities—all while ensuring everything happens on time and, ideally, under budget.
How do managers manage it all?
The unfortunate truth is that not all them of them do—because not all of them can. Faced with a cavalcade of organizational and legal responsibilities, today’s managers are busier than ever, and spread increasingly thin. And yet, employers too often neglect their managers, funneling resources into sales efforts, marketing campaigns, product developments, and other priorities that appear to have greater urgency (and which only compound managers’ workloads).
Here’s the thing: none of these initiatives will succeed if you don’t invest in your managers first.
If your organization is a ship, your managers are the sails.
They can either propel you toward your destination or send you drifting in the wrong direction. And without functional, stable, well-supported management, it’s going to take you a lot more effort to get where you’re trying to go. Here are a few reasons why:
Manager Performance Has a Direct Financial Impact Your Company
Let’s start with an obvious impact of manager performance: employee engagement. A recent Gallup study uncovered several startling statistics related to workforce engagement and employee–manager relations:
due to managers
Across teams and industries, the variance in employee engagement scores is at least 70% due to managers. In other words, managers largely determine the ways employees feel about their jobs. Unengaged and disengaged managers incite disengagement among their teams.
engaged at work
Only about 30% of US workers feel engaged at work, which Gallup says “demonstrate[s] a clear link between poor managing and a nation of ‘checked out’ employees.”
Unengaged and disengaged managers cost the US economy over $319 billion annually.
Furthermore, the same study linked employee engagement to key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction, higher profitability and productivity, lower turnover, less absenteeism, fewer quality problems, fewer instances of theft, and fewer safety incidents. In the researchers’ words, “when a company raises employee engagement levels consistently across every business unit, everything gets better.”
In addition to encouraging employees to act in a safer, more efficient, and more ethical manner, managers also play a direct role in mitigating risk. Because they interact with and oversee frontline employees on a daily basis, your managers are key to the success or failure of your compliance initiatives.
There’s a Management Skills Gap, and Most Organizations Succumb to It
the skills they need
Believe it or not, most managers lack the necessary skills to succeed in their roles. In fact, Gallup’s research indicates that only 18% of current managers possess the talent required of their jobs.
Great managers know how to motivate their teams, hold themselves and others accountable, foster trust and communication between employees, and lead in an equitable and authentic manner. While some of these skills can be taught, others are ingrained in an individual’s personality or sense of personal power.
For this reason, the management hiring process is as important—if not more important—than manager training and education. According to Gallup, “[f]or too long, companies have wasted time, energy, and resources hiring the wrong managers and then attempting to train them to be who they’re not. Nothing fixes the wrong pick.”
Suffice it to say, organizations should carefully consider how they recruit and develop their managers. When less than 20% of managers have what it takes to succeed, your company can gain a competitive advantage by overcoming the skills gap.
Managers Are Stressed Out—But Supporting Them is Relatively Simple
Managers lead busier lives at work than ever before, and are coping with historically high levels of stress as a result. A 2016 article for the Society for Human Resource Management lays the facts bare:
Compared to 10 years ago, the average manager…
than 10 years ago
Managers have the highest rates of
of any worker group, as evidenced in a 2015 Columbia University study of nearly 22,000 full-time workers.
Consider the effects of all this stress on your workforce. In a 2018 paper published in the Academy of Management Journal, researchers Elad N. Sherf, Ravi S. Gajendran, and Vijaya Venkataramani propose “that many managers are, simply put, too busy to be fair”: “They are often expected to juggle multiple responsibilities under intense time and work pressures, and so treating employees fairly may take a backseat to other pressing priorities.”
Fortunately, organizations can reduce management workload—and thereby encourage fairness and improve employee engagement and productivity—in a relatively simple way: by automating manager training and incorporating it into day-to-day business. Rather than asking managers to put their projects on hold, an automated workforce training and compliance platform can assign and administer training in short chunks over time, precisely when the information is most relevant. This way, your managers will stay on top of what’s expected of them during every aspect of the employee lifecycle.
We’ll explore this topic in greater depth over the next few weeks. But if you’d like to skip ahead and see what a smart, automated manager training program can do for your organization, we’d be happy to give you a demonstration. Schedule some time with us here.
Turn Up the Tone in the Middle
Learn strategies for transforming middle management into compliance advocates by taking the tone you’ve already established at the top and building a stronger tone in the middle.
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