If You Are Losing Good People – Look At Their Managers

Posted by & filed under Executive Coaching, Leadership Development.

Grim, grim is my note today… do not despair though… there is hope!

It is simple. A strong manager is one of the main reasons why people stay, perform and are engaged at work. Buckingham and Coffman said it a while ago – “so much money has been thrown at the challenge of keeping good people – in the form of better pay, better perks and better training – when, in the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue”.

Knowing that managers affect at least 70% of variance in employee engagement scores, and that approximately 30% of the workforce in North America is engaged, we can safely say that we are in trouble. Where do the problems start, why do they continue, and… can something sustainable be done about it?

In March of this year, the Harvard Business Review published a summary of Gallup’s recent study pointing out that over 80% of the time organizations fail to choose a candidate with the right skills to be a good manager. This means that today, with all the awareness, behavioural interviewing skills, and tools available to screen and select good people, most organizations still err when promoting or hiring managers.

In addition, many organizations still underestimate the skills and effort required to be a good manager. Some organizations provide a crash course on survival skills for newly promoted supervisors, others keep fingers crossed that the technical expert will transform into a good coach/manager. Some focus on equipping the managers with the tools needed to do the job right. Some succeed… but most don’t. In addition, with the strong focus on developing leaders, perhaps we neglect that one needs to be a good manager first.  “Nobody wants to be led by a poor manager” – quoting our good friend Henry Mintzberg.

In our conversations we often touch upon your desire – that to create a culture of growth and development you want managers not to be the bosses, but to be coaches who focus on growing talent within their team. You understand that to be a good coach you need time, and that overtasking managers with technical jobs is the wrong way of going about it. We awkwardly giggle, relating to the fact that the task of a manager is of a mammoth proportion, and you do not always create conditions for success within their role. You also acknowledge that the one or two day seminars on coaching do not yield the results you crave (if not… read our blog “The 70:20:10 Model” posted on February 24, 2014).

Let us, therefore, not be surprised or shocked about the statistics, but seriously ponder the pragmatic and sustainable actions you may take to really deal with the issues.

I am so happy to introduce to you a new service called Personalized Management Coaching. A mouthful – so we call it simply PMC.

PMC is a process that facilitates improvement of the relationship between a manager and direct report, and enables them to be or become a great coach.

Our offering starts with a closer look at the manager’s…

  • Ability to create a climate of growth – Do people like to work for them? What image does the manager have in the eyes of their direct report?
  • Credibility – Is the manager respected? Are they seen as dedicated to the development of their direct reports? How good is the manager in managing expectations? Sharing information? Communicating?
  • Skills and knowledge to help grow – Does the manager have the competencies to effectively perform the coaching activities?
  • Desire to be in the coaching role and help others develop – Is the manager seen as wanting to help, support, and hold accountable?
  • Capacity to truly engage in a meaningful coaching relationship – From time to resources, from real to perceived.

Based on the data we gather from the manager’s direct team and boss, we help create a solid development plan that tackles the most important areas of concern, and helps the manager to capitalize on the strengths they already bring to the relationship with their team.

Knowing that the road to hell was paved with good intentions, we do not stop with the heightened state of awareness. Most managers are too busy to remember the promises they make to themselves. This is why we support the manager to put the plan in place and follow up with them for a period of 6-8 months, to sustain the great intentions and address individual needs, questions, struggles, and insecurities.

We believe that this approach helps not only raise the awareness of all parties involved around the status quo, but also forces a deep introspection and engages in a serious cause-and-effect analysis. The follow up conversations are linked with the sustainability of the effort, solidifying new practices and ensuring conscious learning.

We end the process with a reassessment and progress reporting. The post measurement helps us stay true, fosters ownership of growth, and tracks the return on investment.

You want to retain your great people and look for tools that will help you not only gather the intelligence about the individual, but also the team or organizational coaching capabilities. You want to put in place a system that supports sustainable transformation of your organizational culture to a true coaching culture – we need to talk PMC.

So far we have engaged a few of you in conversations around this offering. And your response is awesome. Let it continue. We are not naive thinking that PMC solves all your engagement challenges… but it certainly is a serious approach you might want to explore. We are here. Keen and excited to engage and test it with you… My sales coach tells me to finish this blog with an “ask”… so… When do we meet? When do we start?


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