Most CEOs and business owners recognize the significant impact their management teams have on the overall success of their organizations. Managers not only play a vital role in the quality of employee engagement and level of productivity but also greatly influence worker loyalty and retention. Good managers can help organizations retain their best workers, while bad managers can often contribute to employee dissatisfaction and higher turnover rates.
The idea that employees leave managers, not companies, is not only accepted as common wisdom among leadership experts but is also supported by solid research. A 2015 Gallup poll of 7,272 US adults revealed that 50% of respondents had left their job to get away from their manager at some point in their career. Recruiters at Astbury Marsden report that talented employees who leave an organization prematurely often emphasize that they are leaving their immediate managers, not the organization itself.
The need for effective managers and improved employee retention is greater than ever in the current environment of economic expansion and increased employment opportunities. Today’s employers and managers need to sharpen their focus on the qualities needed to improve organizational leadership. Training and leadership development experts Rick Tate and Dr. Julie White (see For Further Reading below) have compiled a list of some of the essential behaviors exhibited by successful managers, including:
- Communicate: Effective communication tops the list of essential managerial qualities. A good manager communicates performance expectations clearly to everyone on the team and provides clear guidance on an ongoing basis. Successful managers also incorporate two-way communication by listening to their employees and responding in helpful and supportive ways.
- Provide Support: A good manager focuses on what each member of the team does best and supports them to play to their strengths. Blending the talents of each employee into a cohesive team can produce better results and boost the confidence and motivation of each individual.
- Give Recognition: Good managers recognize team members often for their contributions and efforts. Awards and celebrations for milestones and important achievements can be very effective in boosting the team, but even more important are ongoing verbal recognition and approval of individual contributions. Positive feedback provides a counterbalance to the constructive (and sometimes critical) feedback necessary to help employees improve and grow.
- Be Empathic: Good managers are able to understand the employee’s perspective and make each person feel seen and cared about as an individual. Empathic managers are more engaged with their employees, and their employees tend to be more engaged with their work and the organization. Having regular one on one meetings with each employee can encourage fuller expression of thoughts, feelings and concerns about the job, and allows the manager to get to know each member of the team better.
- Encourage Employee Growth and Development: Managers who encourage the growth and development of their employees demonstrate their interest in each member of their team, and are more likely to earn appreciation and gratitude in return. Good managers take the time to learn about the career goals of each employee and to provide guidance on skills training and other development opportunities.
While some managers seem to have an inherent capacity to engage and support their employees, others may need to develop and practice behaviors to enhance their ability to connect with their employees and teams. Employers need to not only recruit managers who display the essential qualities of successful management but also provide training and development opportunities to help their current managers improve their leadership skills. Organizations that focus on the quality and effectiveness of their managers are likely to experience improvements in employee engagement, productivity, loyalty and retention.