Investing in your company’s managers will always yield a high return on your investment, but even more so now with The Great Resignation. Fostering growth in these six skills will help set your managers apart.
Poor managers have long been a driver of resignations — nearly two-thirds of people quit their boss, not the company, but the company ultimately pays the price. Replacing a worker is expensive (up to 250% of salary plus benefits), and today, it’s especially difficult to recruit and retain top talent.
Coupled with the fact that poor managers drive absenteeism, disengagement, stress, and reduced productivity, it’s clear that they are quite costly to your bottom line as well as your culture.
For example, the National Association of Mental Health’s 2022 Mind the Workplace study revealed that developing managers who knew how and when to be supportive correlated with higher scores on workplace health. Sadly, only 40% of employees feel that their company invests in developing supportive managers.
Training can turn poor managers into great ones — managers who not only keep your best people but also draw in the next generation of top performers. Most managers want to do a good job, but they don’t know how. People are often chosen for manager roles because they are excellent individual contributors. Being great is very different from creating the conditions that bring out the best in others. Gallup found that 82% of the time, companies choose managers who don’t have the skills they need to be successful.
Investing in manager training is one of the few expenses that consistently delivers a great return on investment (ROI). With the competition for talent at a record high, it yields an even more significant return.
There are several skills that set the best managers apart from the rest.
1. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is critical to your workplace culture because managers shape much of the day-to-day work environment for 90% of your workforce. Now more than ever, managers need the skills to manage their emotions and help their people do the same. In the workplace, 80-90% of the professional competencies that differentiate top performers are related to emotional intelligence. It’s no wonder that implementing EQ training for managers can yield an ROI as high as 1,000%.
2. Psychological safety
Studies show that building a psychologically-safe workplace is the most important and impactful thing a manager can do to create high-performing teams. Yet few managers know what it is, let alone strategies they can consistently use to create it. Psychological safety drives innovation, learning, and belonging because people feel safe to be their authentic selves.
Millennials, who will be 75% of the workforce by 2025, hunger for opportunities to learn and grow at work. They want managers who can provide performance coaching and give them helpful and actionable feedback. Coaching skills are a must for anyone supervising millennials and members of Gen Z, the next largest generation to enter the workforce.
4. Sense of purpose
The pandemic has pushed the global workforce through an intense values clarification process. This is driving a renewed focus on meaningful work and purpose. A recent study by McKinsey found that “nearly seven out of 10 employees are reflecting on their purpose because of Covid-19. In fact, we found that as a result of Covid-19, half of American employees are reconsidering the work that they want to do.” Millennials are likely to see work as their “life calling.” Gen Z is the first to prioritize purpose over salary — they read mission statements and expect work cultures built on social purpose and consistent application of values. Today’s managers need to know how to have authentic and open conversations about purpose and help employees see the connection between their work and the bigger vision their team and company are trying to achieve.
5. Change management
While burnout is the No. 1 reason workers are giving today for quitting, the second reason is “too much organizational change.” Change management is an often-overlooked skill, but it’s critical to your organization’s success. Did you know that 50-70% of change initiatives fail? The reason is often that managers are not given the information or skills they need to get their employees on board with a change. Training your managers on leading change greatly increases your organization’s success.
6. Execution of vision and accountability
Many great companies have failed, not because they lacked innovative ideas, but because they could not execute those ideas. A large part of every manager’s job is driving the execution of strategic goals. In addition, managers must find the right balance of creating a culture of accountability while using psychological safety, not blame-and-shame techniques, to do it. Very few managers have the innate skills to do this, but most can learn when given the right training.
Speaking of accountability, ultimately managers become great because they are held to a standard of performance that measures the health of their team, not their individual wins. So while training can give them the skills, you must also hold them accountable for their results.
It’s important to remember that what you permit, you promote. If you are struggling with a dearth of poor managers, it’s likely because there are no clear rewards or consequences for behaving differently.
Also notable from McKinsey’s study is the fact that perceived violations or hypocrisy between your organization’s stated values and purpose are the most damaging to employee engagement and retention.
The benefits of investing in your managers are many and the drawbacks are very few. Don’t gatekeep manager training or only bestow it upon your best performers. Training your managers is the fastest and most concrete way to create top performers at every level of your organization.
By Britt Andreatta