What shapes our perceptions of a company or organization? While customers may be swayed by competitive pricing, innovative products and services, or even a star CEO, what makes the strongest impression on the employees who work there?
A trendy company culture with good perks and competitive salaries is fairly effective at luring in potential candidates - but is it enough to retain them?
Research conducted by DDI offers some insight into this question, which backs up the old adage that people leave their boss, not the company. According to the study of 1000 leaders and employees, 57% of employees have left one or more companies because of a manager.
That’s a significant number.
On top of that, 32% of people polled have admitted that they have at least thought of leaving a company because of a manager. Only 12% reported that they have never thought about leaving a company due to a poor relationship with their boss.
It’s clear that management is on the frontlines when it comes to battling employee turnover rates, and good management habits are the key to employee retention. Truly understanding the responsibilities and role of management in the workplace is the first step to building and strengthening good management practices.
The Modern Role of the Manager
Managers are the face of the company for their teams, and whether they realize it or not, they carry the responsibility of representing and manifesting the company's vision and values from the ground up.
The actions and decisions of managers directly contribute to shaping the employer brand. Once an employee is hired, no amount of perks, benefits, or salary can make up for a poor relationship with a manager - at least not for long.
It’s a lot of responsibility, and one that many managers report not being prepared for. Of frontline managers polled, 59% reported that they either regret or have doubts about taking on the new role. Many others reported that they accepted the role only for the pay raise, or because it felt like the next logical step in their career.
And managers aren’t the only ones with doubts. According to DDI’s CEO Leadership Report 2021, most CEOs aren’t impressed with their frontline and mid-level managers and begin to lose confidence in senior leadership after 6 months.
So what can be done to ensure managers are adequately prepared for the responsibility that comes with leading a team? The first step is to clearly understand the role of management in the modern workplace and its impact.
Managers Are Responsible For Setting Clear Objectives
Managers are responsible for setting clearly defined goals for their team that align with the company’s overall objectives and KPIs.
Communicating team goals and clearly explaining how their work contributes to the company’s larger goals is crucial. If this is not communicated correctly, employees may lack direction and a feeling of purpose regarding their work. Demonstrating how their work contributes to the larger whole is an essential part of a manager’s responsibilities.
Managers Are Responsible For Delegating Tasks
Breaking down team goals into smaller tasks and delegating them to their team is another responsibility of management. It may sound simple, but appropriate delegation of tasks requires managers to be knowledgeable of their team members’ skill sets and workloads.
Without proper insight into each employee's abilities, managers risk putting unnecessary stress on their team. For example, failure to understand employee workload can lead to employee burnout or corner cutting. On the other hand, if an employee is not being properly challenged they are unable to tap into their full potential, resulting in boredom and disengagement. Either scenario can result in high employee turnover rates.
Managers Are Responsible For Engagement And Morale
Effective employee engagement gives employees a sense of purpose and belonging, and breeds loyalty and commitment. Engagement goes hand in hand with morale, which requires building the enthusiasm, confidence, and discipline necessary to create a strong culture and work ethic within the team. Motivation provides properly engaged employees the willpower and drive they need to succeed and feel satisfied with their work - increasing employee retention.
Proper engagement has long been one of the most important, yet often overlooked, responsibilities of a team leader. The ability to effectively motivate employees and create a strong mindset requires good communication and well developed soft skills on the manager’s part. Without it, employees can easily drift and become disillusioned with their work and role in the company.
According to research, 77% of engaged employees feel they have a good work-life balance, while only 12% of disengaged employees report the same. Engagement improves work-life balance, and good work-life balance directly and dramatically impacts employee productivity and retention.
Managers Are Responsible For Measuring Performance
Setting goals and outlining objectives is important, but it’s not enough on its own. Managers need to set up a system that allows them to continually analyze and interpret employee performance. Doing so offers insight into what action the manager needs to take next to properly steer their team towards meeting their goals.
Once business needs are established, employees need consistent performance feedback to reflect their own work and set their own personal performance goals. Routine performance feedback ensures that the goals of the individual, the team, and the company are all aligned.
Managers Are Responsible For Developing Their People
The modern workplace demands a new approach to archaic management styles. Many companies have risen to the occasion by pivoting away from the traditional view of managers to managers as coaches, with a greater emphasis on mentorship.
Development of employees is not only focused on them as employees, but as individual people. Relevant skills and knowledge are certainly important but a more well-rounded approach helps develop an employee more holistically - increasing their feelings of engagement.
Understanding the nuances of an individual employee’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses is valuable knowledge for leadership, who can use it to foster growth and better utilize natural talent.
Managers Are Responsible for Reward and Recognition
Sixty-three percent of employees report that managers do not recognize their achievements. Not doing so can lead to employees feeling that their work is underappreciated, which can lead to higher employee turnover rates.
Positive reinforcement and proper motivation is equally as important as constructive criticism. This is why reward and recognition programs in the workplace are so important. Establishing clear incentives help drive motivation and are a staple for maintaining engagement and morale.
Managers Are Responsible for Team Communication
The backbone of all good managerial habits is clear communication. This is absolutely essential for delivering clear objectives to employees, as well as fostering engagement and development.
The dependency on communication may seem obvious, but according to an Interact/ Harris Poll, 69% of managers report feeling uncomfortable communicating with employees. Not only that, but roughly 50% of employees report managers do not take the time to talk to them, or refuse to talk to subordinates altogether. Only a meger 15% of employees worldwide claim their company successfully fosters communication!
It's important for managers to schedule regular meetings and touch base with team members so they can be aware of their team’s workload, understand individual employee needs, and offer proper mentorship. Without proper communication, a manager is unable to effectively fulfill any of the above responsibilities.
The Impact of Poor Management
It's also important for management to understand how all of these responsibilities are connected and directly affect one another. If one responsibility is neglected, they all suffer. For example, without proper communication, none of the other responsibilities of the manager can be fully realized. Or, performance measurement on its own is irrelevant without proper employee development or engagement.
Improper management techniques can result in feelings of:
- Confusion and lack of understanding
- Resentment and anger
- Lack of confidence
- Stress and burnout
- Being undervalued
All of these feelings have been shown to have a massive impact on employee productivity, morale, and turnover rates. When these suffer, so too does your company’s ability to adapt and drive innovation,
Poor management techniques dull the competitive edge of the company. Leaders’ decisions, actions, and the way they conduct themselves can make or break the employer brand. An ineffective manager affects an employee’s perception of the company’s overall vision and values, which in turn can negatively affect the customer experience of the brand and reduce its attractiveness to shareholders.
Companies stand to lose a lot from high employee turnover rates, and on top of that bad management can damage company reputation, which can make it very difficult to attract top talent. The combination of the two can quickly result in a downward spiral.
How can the negative impact of poor management be averted?
How Companies Can Better Support Leadership
Managers need support too. Investing in leaders and managers is essential to business success. What can a company do to better support their management so that they can in turn better support their employees?
Employers can support leadership by:
- Recognizing the specific skill set required of a manager and properly outlining managerial responsibilities.
- Ensuring employees are promoted to leadership positions based on relevant experience as well as desire to be in the role.
- Investing in training and up-skilling of managers in the same way leaders are expected to do for their teams.
- Encouraging more agile performance management and stressing the need for continual structured feedback.
- Providing tools like worker productivity software which can help support managers in supporting their teams.
When it comes to tools, there are many that can help.
Resources like intranet software, communication, and even social media can be leveraged to increase communication and engagement. Software specifically designed for employee wellness as well as recognition can be very useful as well.
Originally designed for monitoring employee activities on office PCs, Insightful’s workforce productivity software has proven to be an excellent tool that can help leaders better support their team by providing actionable work data insights.
Insightful’s features help drive bottom-up improvement through coaching and investment into people, and provide powerful visualizations that allow leaders to make more informed management decisions.
Insightful’s remote and on premise employee monitoring software also helps managers bridge the gap between teams that may be split by hybrid environments. Real time employee tracking provides insight into remote employee’s workloads and habits, so leaders know how to more effectively coach and lead their teams.