From Corporate/HR Driven to the Manager/Employee Relationship
Managers are the face of the company to employees! Yet
Manager-Employee disconnects are often cited as the # 1 reason why employees resign.
- “50% to 75% of employees leave because of their manager or reasons their manager has influence over.” Business Leadership Today
- “Almost 60% say they never received any training when they transitioned into their first leadership role.” Center for Creative Leadership
- “Nearly all bosses are ‘accidental’ with no formal training—and research shows it’s leading 1 in 3 workers to quit.” Orianna Royle
Strengthening the Manager-Employee relationship is a crucial piece of the employee retention process and significantly impacts the major retention drivers that affect employee decisions to stay or leave.
Why are managers o important to employees? Direct managers are often considered the face of the company to employees due to their pivotal role in shaping the employees’ day-to-day work experiences and perceptions of the company. Here’s why:
- First Point of Contact: For many employees, their manager is their primary point of contact with the organization. Managers are the individuals they interact with most frequently, making them the most immediate representation of the company’s leadership.
- Interpreters of Company Policy and Culture: Managers play a crucial role in interpreting and implementing company policies and culture at the team level. How they apply these policies and embody the company culture in their management style significantly influences how employees perceive the company as a whole.
- Providers of Feedback and Recognition: Employees typically receive feedback, recognition, and evaluations from their direct managers. This interaction greatly affects their job satisfaction and sense of value within the company.
- Communication Channel: Managers are often the conduit for communication between senior leadership and the workforce. They relay information from the top down and bring employee concerns and feedback up the chain. This role as communicators positions them as the face of the company’s decision-making process.
- Support and Development: Managers are responsible for supporting and developing their team members. They identify training needs, provide career advice, and help navigate professional growth paths. This development role directly impacts employees’ career trajectories and their association with the company.
- Day-to-Day Problem Solving: On a practical level, managers are the go-to people for solving daily work-related problems and challenges. Their responsiveness and effectiveness in problem-solving can significantly influence employee morale and trust in the company.
- Personalization of the Employee Experience: Unlike senior leaders who may seem distant due to their broader organizational focus, managers personalize the employee experience. They adapt and apply broader company strategies to the specific context of their teams, making the company’s goals and values more relatable and tangible to individual employees.
In essence, direct managers are the lens through which employees view the company. Their actions, attitudes, and leadership styles not only impact the immediate work environment but also shape employees’ overall perception and experience of the company. This is why effective management is critical to employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention.
These manager-employee relationships, trust levels, communication dynamics along with attention to key retention drivers have a profound influence on employee retention. Working together, managers and employees can make significant improvements in the employees work experience by directly addressing and supporting employee needs. This creates more rewarding and enjoyable roles and fosters a supportive workplace culture. Managers and emplpyees can work together to understand needs and challenges, conduct interactive conversations on key issues and take key action steps and this process makes all the difference. This shifts the focus from “What is management going to do for me” to “What am I going to do”
This shift to a manager-employee retention focus, combined with resulting retention improvements, allows senior leaders to concentrate on serving clients achieving their mission and vision and attaining business growth, success and profitability. It also allows Human Resource departments to reduce their time hiring new talent (which saves the company money) and focus on human resource training and development support for employees as well as managers, compliance and labor laws, workplace safety and health, performance management systems, compensation and benefit packages, and policies to optimize workforce contributions.
Doesn’t it make sense to have managers and employees, together, using assessment tools, discussions to improve understanding and follow up actions, resolve and improve the disconnects between them and their work colleagues before issues and dissatisfaction lead to employee turnover.
Shifting the focus of employee retention efforts to emphasize the manager-employee relationship is indeed a strategic approach. This relationship is often at the heart of an employee’s work experience and can significantly influence their decision to stay with or leave an organization. Here’s are a few recommendations on how to strengthen this focus:
Empowerment and Autonomy: Equip managers with the tools, authority, and resources they need to effectively support their teams. This includes training in leadership, communication, conflict resolution, and emotional intelligence.
Foster Open, Interactive Communication and Conversations (Both 1:1 and Group Discussions): Encourage a culture where open and honest communication is the norm. Managers should regularly check in with their team members, not just about work tasks but also about their career aspirations, challenges, and overall well-being. These discussions should be prefaced by explaining the goal is to create a workplace culture that employees enjoy and actively contribute to shaping the environment and culture and where everyone’s ideas are welcomed and they are engaged in making improvements.
Personalized Career Development Plans: Support managers in creating personalized development plans for each employee. These plans should align with the individual’s career goals and the organization’s objectives.
Recognition and Feedback: Train managers to provide regular and meaningful recognition and constructive feedback, keys to employee motivation and satisfaction. Recognition should be personalized and relevant to what each employee values. This immediate acknowledgment of an employee’s contributions reinforces their value to the team and the organization.
Create Stronger Bonds: Encourage managers to build strong, trust-based relationships with their team members. This can be through team-building activities, one-on-one meetings, or simply by showing genuine interest in their team members’ lives and careers.
Support Work-Life Balance: Managers should be role models in maintaining and respecting work-life boundaries. They should advocate for policies that support a healthy balance, such as flexible working hours or mental health days.
Address and Resolve Conflicts: Equip managers with the skills to identify and resolve workplace conflicts early and effectively. A harmonious work environment is key to retaining employees.
Autonomy and Empowerment: Empowering employees with the autonomy to make decisions in their roles. Avoiding micromanagement and encouraging ownership of projects.
Mental Health and Well-being: Providing support for mental health, including access to counseling services or wellness programs. Creating an environment where mental health is openly discussed and supported.
Delegate and Empower Employees: Encourage managers to delegate meaningful tasks and responsibilities, empowering employees and giving them a sense of ownership over their work.
Gather Feedback on Managers: Regularly collect feedback about managers from their teams. This feedback can provide valuable insights into areas where managers are excelling and where they might need more support or training.
Leadership Support: Ensure that senior leadership supports managers in these efforts. This can be through providing adequate resources, setting an example of good management practices, and reinforcing the importance of the manager-employee relationship in retention strategies. By focusing on strengthening the manager-employee relationship, organizations can create a more engaged and committed workforce. Managers who are well-equipped and supported in their role as team leaders play a crucial part in boosting employee satisfaction and, consequently, retention. Managers and employees are often in the best position to understand, influence, and impact employee retention drivers, creating a strong business case for their active involvement in retention strategies.
Clear Goals and Metrics: Set clear goals and metrics for retention efforts. Managers and employees should know what success looks like and have a way to measure progress towards these goals.
Direct Interaction and Relationship Building: Managers have daily interactions with their team members, giving them firsthand insight into employees’ needs, motivations, and concerns. These relationships build trust, making employees more likely to openly share their feedback and concerns, which are crucial for identifying retention issues.
Immediate Impact on Work Environment: Managers directly influence the team’s work environment, culture, and dynamics. They are well-placed to create a positive atmosphere that fosters job satisfaction and engagement. By addressing issues like workload management, work-life balance, and team conflicts, managers can immediately improve the factors that often lead to turnover.
Early Identification of Potential Problems: Being closer to the workforce, managers can quickly identify signs of disengagement or dissatisfaction among employees. This proximity allows for early intervention to address issues before they lead to turnover.
Tailored Development and Growth Opportunities: Managers can provide personalized development opportunities to their team members, aligning with each employee’s career aspirations and skill gaps. They can advocate for their team’s needs regarding training, resources, and career advancement within the organization.
Decentralized Decision Making: Empowering managers and employees in decision-making processes can lead to more effective retention strategies tailored to specific team needs. This decentralization fosters a sense of ownership and accountability among managers and their teams.
Cost-Effective and Efficient: Solutions implemented at the managerial level can be more cost-effective and efficient than those requiring top-down implementation. Managers can often implement changes more quickly and responsively, adapting to the dynamic needs of their teams.
Driving a Culture of Retention: When managers and employees are involved in retention efforts, it creates a culture where everyone feels responsible for maintaining a positive work environment. This inclusive approach can lead to more sustainable and impactful retention outcomes.
Preparing Managers for Their Retention Role:
Preparing managers to play a crucial and successful role in employee retention involves a multi-faceted approach focused on development, support, and empowerment. Here are key strategies:
Training and Development: Provide comprehensive training that covers leadership skills, emotional intelligence, effective communication, conflict resolution, and team-building techniques. Focus on developing people skills essential for empathetic and effective people management.
Understanding of Company Culture and Values: Ensure managers thoroughly understand and align with the company’s culture, values, and vision. They should be able to embody and reinforce these elements in their teams.
Resources and Tools: Equip managers with the necessary tools and resources to monitor and enhance team performance and well-being. This might include access to employee engagement software, performance management systems, and wellness programs.
Regular Training on Policies and Best Practices: Keep managers updated on HR policies, labor laws, and industry best practices related to employee management and retention.
Support from Senior Leadership: Ensure senior leadership supports managers by providing clear communication, guidance, and backing their decisions. This support is critical in enabling managers to act confidently and effectively.
Feedback Mechanisms: Implement systems for managers to receive regular feedback on their leadership and management styles, both from their superiors and their direct reports.
Mentorship and Coaching Programs: Pair managers with more experienced leaders in mentorship or coaching arrangements to help them develop and refine their management skills.
Fostering a Culture of Continuous Improvement: Promote a culture where continuous learning and improvement are valued. Encourage managers to seek out professional development opportunities and to stay informed about the latest trends and practices in people management.
Performance Metrics for Retention: Include employee retention metrics in managers’ performance evaluations to highlight the importance of retention in their role. By focusing on these areas, organizations can prepare their managers to effectively address the diverse needs of their teams, foster a positive work environment, and ultimately play a key role in retaining talent.
In conclusion, while senior leaders and owners play a crucial role in setting the overall direction and providing resources for retention strategies, managers and employees are often better positioned to understand and address the day-to-day factors that influence employee retention. Their direct involvement and empowerment in retention initiatives can lead to more effective, responsive, and sustainable outcomes.
Managers need support, training and a structured process to build relationships meet employee needs and improve retention. Invest in manager-employee programs and processes that drive retention to maximize retention results versus the constant cycle of replacing employees and the need for senior leaders to build new programs and compensation packages (often increased compensation packages to replace candidates) to attract and retain talent.
As a senior executive or owner, picture a workplace where you don’t have to worry about the constant headache of employee turnover, the struggles to replace them with shortages of qualified talent. As a busy executive you need a management team that is actively and successfully involved in employee retention.