Why Make Managers A Strategic Priority?

Source: https://cdn.moneycrashers.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/manager3.jpg

Guest post from Larry Sternberg and Kim

What would
your organization be like if every employee had a great manager? What would
happen to productivity, quality, morale and customer satisfaction?  In every organization, managers are a key
leverage point to drive higher performance and better business results.
Managers maintain service and quality standards and ensure adherence to company
policies and regulatory requirements. They also drive engagement and retention
of employees.

Managers influence
at least 75 percent of the reasons people give for voluntary job turnover, and
they account for 70 percent of variance in employee engagement. The impact
managers have on turnover and engagement go straight to the organization’s
bottom line. Turnover costs range from 48 to 61 percent of an employee’s annual
salary, and disengaged employees cost organizations $3,400 for every $10,000 in

It’s difficult
to overstate the impact a great manager can have on organizational performance.
However, organizations often under invest in their selection and training. In
fact, in many organizations, the best front line employee (e.g. best nurse,
best waiter, best carpenter) is promoted as the next manager. Furthermore, in
many cases, the new manager receives zero
One day the person is an hourly employee, and the next day they’re
managing their former coworkers. Sound familiar?

Improving the
process for identifying and training new managers presents a low-risk, high
return, strategic opportunity to improve organizational performance. Here are
specific steps you can take to make managers a strategic business priority.

First, change
your selection criteria.

Optimizing the
impact of managers starts with changing your selection criteria. Performing
with excellence as a manager requires very different talents than performing in
an hourly employee role. Therefore, excellent individual performance is not a
good basis for promoting someone to a management role. Instead, look for an employee
who naturally exhibits these behaviors and attitudes

1.       Takes
This particular combination of behavior
and attitude is fundamental to everything else and should be a ticket to
admission for promotion to manager. Who sees ways to help, to improve things,
to add value– and takes action?

2.       Improves Morale. This
should also be required. Who has a strong positive attitude and positively impacts the attitudes of
others? Things feel better in the department when this person is working.  He or she encourages others to maintain
positivity and optimism in the face of adversity.

3.       Helps Other
Who notice when another team member
could use some help and just spontaneously moves in to help them? This person
might reach out proactively to help you as well.

4.       Teaches Other
Who naturally shares knowledge,
expertise and new learning to help other people do their jobs better- and  really enjoys that  kind of teaching?

5.       Generates Ideas For Improvement.  Who always sees ways
to make things function more effectively–and then speaks up? This might be annoying
sometimes, but it’s a sign of management talent.

6.       6.  Demonstrates Leadership. Who
sees that something needs to be done, asks others to  pitch in and gets  results? This goes beyond simply taking initiative.
The key is in asking others and getting
them to pitch in.
Again, it’s natural.

not an exhaustive list, it’s a great start to finding people with the natural
talent to be managers. And it’s much better than just choosing the top
performer in the current role. In fact, your best management candidate might
NOT be the best performer in the department. The person with the highest
potential to be a great supervisor or manager might be just average as a waiter
or sales associate. If you see  these
attitudes and  behaviors, if you see an
employee who does  these kinds of
things  without being asked… that’s the  person
you should consider for promotion to manager.

Next, provide
appropriate training.

next step in making sure every employee has a great manager is to create a
training program. Once you have identified future managers, put them into a
training program. You and your colleagues should make a list of the skills and
knowledge needed to be a great manager in your organization. Possible items
might include:

Union contracts

Wage and hour laws

Scheduling work


Company and departmental policies

Coaching and counseling

Ordering supplies

Train the trainer

Whatever is on
your list, new managers will operate with a much higher level of confidence
when you train them beforehand, rather than just saying, “Congratulations,
here’s your desk.” By the way, how much easier would your life be if every employee had a great manager?


Final step:
Hold managers accountable.

Most companies
are keenly aware of the importance of employee engagement. Many conduct
periodic engagement surveys, form teams to address issues identified by those
surveys and implement improvement strategies recommended by those teams. That
is a costly, time-consuming process. And despite those kinds of efforts,
engagement survey scores do not seem to improve materially year over year.

There is a better way to improve your
engagement scares. Focus on your managers.

If you analyze
data on engagement and voluntary turnover, you are likely see the Pareto
Principle in action- 80% of your low engagement or high turnover is
attributable to 20% of your managers.

The solution
is to remove the poor managers and replace them with great managers. This
solution is not easy or pleasant. It might require you to alter performance
evaluation criteria to hold managers accountable for engagement scores and
voluntary turnover. It might require you to replace some managers with seniority.
The alternative is to ignore the reality that certain poor managers are causing
most of the disengagement and voluntary turnover. Replacing them with great
managers will improve all
your metrics, and improve them rapidly.


Focusing on
managers presents a low-risk, high return, strategic opportunity to improve
organizational performance. You can do this by adopting better selection criteria
and by providing better training. Parting company with poor managers and
replacing them with highly talented managers will bring rapid improvement in
engagement and turnover, translating to better financial results.

At Converge HR Solutions, we offer management training on various
different topics, e.g., delegation, construction feedback, conflict resolution,
and the role of a manager. This training is available ala carte or through our
HR Outsourcing service, which includes training, handbook & policies, onboarding,
performance management, and a number of other different benefits.  For more information
regarding our management training and outsourcing services, or any of our other
services in general, visit our website at https://convergehrsolutions.com/
or email us directly at info@convergehrsolutions.com or
give us a call at 610-296-8550.


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