There’s an uncomfortable truth about managers that we’re not facing. According to the “Good Manager, Bad Manager: New Research on the Modern Management Deficit” report, 44% of managers feel unprepared for their responsibilities, and a shocking 87% wish they’d had more training before they took on the role.
The impacts of this are not just confined to the individual manager, either. Generations of underprepared leaders damage employees’ enjoyment and engagement at work. In fact, according to the “Udemy In Depth: 2018 Employee Experience Report,” 56% of employees believe their managers are promoted too soon, 60% believe their managers need further training, and approximately half have actually considered submitting their resignation because they were frustrated by their managers.
Lack of morale and disconnect from a company vision will drain the energy from projects and lead potentially great employees to look elsewhere for more inspiring opportunities.
What Makes a Good (and a Bad) Manager?
The two-way street between managers and employees can often be productive and rewarding. But it can also lack education, coaching, and awareness, leaving managers stuck in an uninspiring cycle.
All too often, bad management begins innocently enough: It can start by simply not taking notice of culture. Managers may have the skills required for the job, but they may struggle to communicate ideas and generate enthusiasm among their teams. A poor manager struggles to express the company’s vision and values in a way that inspires. All this leads to an absence of trust — gradually turning employees away.
In contrast, good managers have their eyes on culture. They are consciously communicating their vision and working actively to listen to (and collaborate with) employees in making this vision come true. Because of this carefully crafted spirit of collaboration, the good manager naturally earns his or her subordinates’ trust.
Good managers aren’t born with perfect leadership skills, but they’re aware of the qualities they must exhibit — and the behaviors they need to encourage their staff.
Where Organizations Are Going Wrong: Lack of Coaching
As full-time students, we knew how important studying and learning were. We likely would not have dreamed of trying to pass an exam without careful preparation and study sessions. Unfortunately, much of the working world has forgotten the power of learning. We assume that the skills needed to effectively lead a team are innate.
This dangerous assumption often creates a widening gap in organizations — slowly dragging the C-suite and employees further away from each other. Over time, this creates much bigger turnover problems and degrades the company culture.
Furthermore, to be an effective, inspirational leader, an individual must be strong in soft skills (e.g., work ethic, positive attitude, good communication, problem-solving, time management, etc.). Unfortunately, companies often neglect to cultivate soft skills in their managers. Decision-makers just assume that managers either possess these skills or they don’t.
In reality, even the softest skills require practice and attention. Communication, vision, values, and culture: These are coachable qualities. We can promote and cultivate them until every leader on our team is living up to his or her full potential (and helping others do the same).
When you invest in the professional development of your leaders, you invest in the productivity and engagement of your employees. Typically, people don’t leave jobs because of the work itself — but because they are dissatisfied by the relationships they have (or have not) made at work. That is why supportive, mutually respectful relationships between direct supports and reports can transform the whole company.
The Ingredients of Inspired Leadership
We all know uninspiring leadership has the power to alienate employees. This is a loss you can’t afford. Not only does it misuse talent, but it also chips away at your bottom line and adds undue stress and pressure.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, you will have to spend the equivalent of six to nine months of a past employee’s salary to recruit, hire, and train his or her replacement. So if one of your salaried employees at $60,000 quits tomorrow, you will have to spend between $30,000 and $45,000 getting that replacement employee up to speed.
To avoid this, here are three vital qualities that inspire company leaders to do their best work so employee turnover is never a worry:
An effective leader will start from a place of personal attachment to the goals he’s setting for others, including an overall vision for how those goals should be realized. It’s this personal attachment that allows a leader to create an inspiring vision for others.
Leaders need time and space to work out their own interpretations of the company’s values and goals. They also require mentorship in order to connect this organizational purpose to their own career missions.
Once leaders feel confident in their own sense of the company’s vision, they can begin helping others find theirs. A great leader can open the discussion to include employee ideas and interpretations of organizational values, eventually merging them into a greater whole.
Leaders can practice openness by sitting down with employees and inviting their ideas. It’s about making themselves accessible and asking questions that elicit more open-ended, personal responses from people.
Being an inspiring leader isn’t just about showing a vision for the future. It’s also about appreciating and recognizing what has already been done and how to make it even better. Great leaders notice their employees’ hard work and reward them for it in ways that make people feel trusted and valued.
Leaders can practice generosity by isolating qualities and behaviors associated with success (or those that embody the company’s values). Set out to reward these things, making sure to send focused appreciation to the employee in question. In this way, leaders can start building a relationship of mutual respect.
Even the most committed employees can become unenthused and unmotivated under the influence of poor management. But bad managing is often simply a symptom of unpreparedness and a lack of supportive coaching. Start building this culture for both leaders and employees, and you will find that both will want to stick around for the long haul.
What kind of qualities do you encourage management to embody to reduce turnover and create a more productive working environment? Let me know in the comments below.