Managers are the first line of defense in ensuring that employees feel appreciated, respected and cared about as people. Yet the challenges for managers have never been greater. The modern workplace is a much more diverse environment—a blending of different age groups, cultures, genders and time zones. Because of the speed of business, the diversity, the outsourcing of jobs and global competition, organizations need strong effective leaders at all levels who can engage the hearts and minds of employees. Organizations that maintain positive working relationships with their employees, contractors, and suppliers are better able to develop and deliver products and services that meet the needs of their customers. Managers are uniquely positioned to positively or negatively influence thousands of these connecting points by what they say, do and think. If you can successfully develop their skills and confidence as effective leaders, you will be much better positioned to achieve your current and future goals.
Employees leave managers, not companies In their bestseller, First Break All the Rules!, Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman present compelling Gallup research to show that people most often leave managers, not companies. When you calculate the cost of employee turnover—at least 2 – 3 times the employee’s salary—it becomes clear that it makes good economic sense to focus on improving the management and leadership skills of your managers.
So why don’t all organizations invest more in developing the skills of their managers? Based on conversations with HR managers and executives over the years, we have found that one of the key reasons is they don’t see the link between business results and management development programs.
Management Development must be linked to corporate goals and strategies According to International Data Corporation, corporate training is approximately a $66 billion market in the U.S. and is expected to grow approximately 5% per year. At least 25% of that total budget is spent on management training. Clearly, many organizations have invested in management development. The range of effort covers everything from public seminars or a few hours of training to more comprehensive in-house corporate university programs. But, for all the dollars spent, very few can demonstrate the return on that investment in terms of increased management effectiveness or business results. Meaningful and substantive development of managers will not happen from an ad hoc group of training sessions posted on the company intranet—what I call the “laundry list” approach. Development, in all its forms (classroom training, blended learning, job rotations, action learning, coaching, mentoring) must be linked to corporate goals and strategies. A more effective management development effort can be developed by asking the right questions:
What is the company’s mission?
What must the company do better than anyone else if they are to be successful in the marketplace?
What are the competencies that managers and leaders must have in order to realize those goals?
What do our managers do well?
How can we free them up to do more of what they do well?
What’s not working?
What resources and support do managers need to be more effective?
What is the role of senior management in developing management bench strength for the future?
We have found that thoughtful answers to these kinds of questions will form the basis of a successful management development strategy and help ensure sustainable growth and desired outcomes.