By: Roberta Matuson
What’s the value of a good manager? To paraphrase a well-known ad campaign, a good manager is priceless.
Knowing how to manage people can make all the difference in the world when it comes to employee retention.
That makes it critical that you manage your managers and provide them with ongoing employee training and support.
The benefits of good management have a cascade effect. Employees who are well-managed can overlook a lot of shortcomings that may exist in an organization. For example, an employee who feels a strong connection to his boss is less likely to quit when a better paying opportunity comes along.
On the contrary, an employee who has an extreme dislike for their manager will take any offer that comes along, even if that means earning less money or working longer hours.
Employee Retention: A Management Barometer
High employee turnover is a clear sign that something’s not right with the management of the organization. How does your company rate when it comes to employee retention?
One of the most effective ways to address these issues is by conducting an employee survey yet many companies shy away from employee engagement surveys, fearing what they may find. They suspect they will open up a can of worms if they ask employees to rate their managers.
Yet how can you fix something when you don’t know what needs repairing?
Employee engagement surveys are one way of discovering what’s going well and where help is needed.
Remember -- surveys are for small companies too; they're best delivered by a third-party vendor with experience in conducting engagement surveys.
Another approach is to hire an outside consultant to conduct focus groups. This method enables the facilitator to dig below the surface to either confirm that your managers are doing a great job -- or uncover evidence that indicates more employee training and support may be needed.
The Four Pillars of Employee Retention
Research carried out by Gallup indicates that good management-staff relationships rest on four pillars:
1. Employees know what is expected of them Employees who are most engaged don’t have to worry about what their managers are thinking. That’s because their managers provide continuous feedback to them. This allows the employee to quickly make course corrections and to feel successful.
Employers should be mindful of those they promote into leadership positions. Strong communication skills are a must when leading a team of people. Consider providing managers with a coach to help them up their game in this critical area of leadership.
2. Employees feel cared for Can you imagine what it must feel like to work for a manager who doesn’t even know you exist? Now think about what it must be like to work for someone who genuinely is concerned about his or her staff. A good manager is empathetic to their people and demonstrates this routinely.
Empathy isn’t something that’s easily taught. Before promoting people into management roles, ascertain whether empathy is a trait that is part of their being. If it isn’t, then be prepared to pair them with a leader who can mentor them on how to demonstrate to your people that you value them.
3. Regular recognition and praise for a job well done Employees don’t need nor do they expect a pat on the back everytime they complete a task. However, they do need and appreciate acknowledgement for a job well done. Employee recognition goes a long way towards retaining valuable talent.
Train your managers on how to praise and recognize employees for doing good work. Provide them with a budget to present financial rewards when an employee is deserving.
4. An opportunity to do what they do best everyday Trying to put a square peg into a round hole is frustrating for both employer and manager. Yet this happens everyday. An example is when an employee is asked to take on responsibilities for a task that requires strong critical thinking skills, when clearly their strengths are better suited for customer relations.
Teach your managers the importance of building on strengths and tapping into other resources when skills are needed that may not be readily available with the current staff. Encourage your managers to listen when an employee expresses concern regarding his or her ability to do their best with a task everyday.
Understanding that good managers usually aren’t born that way will go a long way in your efforts to build employee performance. Know what to look for before you promote people into management and provide them with ongoing training so they can lead your workforce in a manner that inspires others to gladly follow.
© 2012 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the highly acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters. E-mail Roberta for a free self-assessment tool to measure your employee engagement.