We’re failing managers. Here’s how we can support them instead

Managers are pivotal to organizational culture, performance improvement and employee engagement.

Great managers consistently motivate teams to achieve goals and improve performance. Yet, not all teams are led by great managers. Research by the Work Institute suggests that inadequate management is a leading factor behind employee turnover, with around 75% of voluntary resignations being influenced by managerial behavior. Furthermore, according to Gallup, 70% of the variance in employees’ perceptions of company culture can be attributed to managers. These variations are responsible for increasingly low employee engagement rates (only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged).

To remedy low employee engagement, managers need to be more involved with their teams. One source found that employees who feel trusted and supported by the direct or line manager are 3.4 times more engaged at work. Furthermore, employees who feel their managers are invested in their personal growth are twice as likely to stay with the organization.

Yet the reality is many of today’s managers are not equipped with the right resources or training to be successful in their role — they’re being set up to fail.

More Than Content Is Needed to Create Good Managers

Positive managerial behavior, such as effective communication, empathy and support, can foster a culture of collaboration, innovation and trust. In contrast, poor management can lead to disengagement, low morale and a toxic work environment. However, managers need to be effectively trained to demonstrate positive and productive managerial skills. It’s unrealistic to expect individuals to creatively solve problems or streamline communication without being taught the skills to do so.

The type of training managers receive directly impacts how effective individuals will be in manager or leadership positions. Too many management programs focus on content, courses and maybe a few live sessions and then consider managers “ready” for work. Even worse, we put high-potential leaders into these programs, often overlooking a demographic that might benefit more.

Training needs to move beyond content to equip managers with the right skills necessary for increasing employee satisfaction, well-being and overall performance.

PREMIUM CONTENT: March 2024 Jobs Report

Successful Managerial Training Is Hands On

Training managers through hands-on learning and skill validation is a dynamic approach that cultivates practical expertise and fosters effective leadership. The process begins with interactive workshops and simulations that mirror real-world managerial scenarios. Through these immersive experiences, managers can grapple with challenges such as conflict resolution, team collaboration and decision-making, strengthening their critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a controlled environment. These workshops should encourage active participation, allowing managers to apply theoretical knowledge to concrete situations and enhancing their ability to handle complex issues that may arise in their roles.

Skill validation is integral to this training methodology as it ensures managers can translate theoretical concepts into tangible outcomes. Assigning managers projects or tasks that align with their responsibilities allows them to demonstrate their newly acquired skills in a practical context. Regular feedback and evaluation sessions provide an opportunity to identify strengths and areas for improvement, enabling personalized coaching and targeted development plans. These validation processes boost managers’ confidence in their abilities and offer a clear measure of progress, motivating them to refine their skills continually.

A pivotal element of hands-on learning for managers is mentorship and peer collaboration. Pairing less experienced managers with seasoned mentors promotes knowledge transfer and encourages the exchange of insights and best practices. Creating forums or platforms for peer interaction allows managers to share their experiences, seek advice and learn from one another’s successes and challenges. This collaborative environment fosters a sense of community and a culture of continuous learning, where managers can collectively broaden their perspectives and refine their leadership skills.

A comprehensive approach to training managers with hands-on learning and skill validation empowers them to effectively navigate the complexities of their roles, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

With more confidence in their skills and appropriate preparation time, new or seasoned managers can turn business objectives into actions that drive business goals. Managers’ success spreads throughout the rest of the enterprise in terms of higher employee morale, motivation and engagement, lower turnover rates, and more productivity.

Sarah Danzl

Sarah Danzl
Sarah Danzl is CMO at Skillable.

Sarah Danzl

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