We’re not talking here about managers who get their arm stuck in a revolving door or electrocute themselves trying to fix the photocopier, although that could make for an interesting article. We’re talking about those managers who get promoted to a managerial role without any training on how to manage staff. And, according to some recent research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), that accounts for a whopping 82% of new managers.
The research entitled ‘Taking Responsibility – Why UK PLC Needs Better Managers – The Result of a Nationwide Study into the State of UK Management‘ was conducted in conjunction with YouGov. It obtained responses from 2,524 employees with management experience and 2,018 employees with no management experience in the UK.
So, what is the risk to your business of not equipping your managers with the skills they need to line manage staff?
The CMI report comments, ‘A total of 50% of those workers who do not rate their manager plan to leave in the next year. And 31% of managers and 28% of workers have left a job because of a negative relationship with their manager.’ In a challenging recruitment market, it’s more important than ever for businesses to make sure they are retaining their good employees.
Perhaps even more concerning than employees preparing to jump ship due to poor management, the CMI also found that an ineffective manager can be a reason why an employee does not report suspected wrongdoing or poor behaviour. The CMI report comments, ‘Of the one in five managers (17%) who said they had wanted to raise concerns but didn’t, 41% feared they would not get enough support from their superiors.’
The business case
And if your Board needed more persuading that line manager training is a worthwhile investment, the CMI has published a number of statistics:
- Trained managers are more comfortable with managing change initiatives (87%, compared to 77% of non-trained managers) and also with employing emerging technology to improve efficiency (66% vs50%)
- Great managers also engender loyalty in their people. Almost all (72%) of those workers who rated their own manager as effective felt stated they felt valued and respected. This figure dropped to just 15 per cent where the manager was rated as ineffective.
- Staff with good managers were generally more satisfied with their job (74%), felt motivated (77%), and agreed their organisation had a good culture (67%).
- A higher proportion of trained managers ask their team members for feedback (79%, compared to 69% without formal training)
What can organisations do next?
The CMI has a plan for a ‘better managed Britain’ and it is fairly simple:
- Do some digging – what training has taken place? Where are the gaps?
- Commit to raising skills – this will usually be by way of skills based training and other development tools, such as coaching and mentoring.
In our experience of delivering manager training, the areas that managers often appreciate guidance on are the interplay between informal and formal processes, how and when to record and escalate matters and how to have difficult conversations.
Finally, it is always worth encouraging decision makers to reflect on the question ‘Can you remember a time you had an ineffective manager and how that felt as compared to when you were managed well?’ Reflecting on our own experiences, many of us may be able to recall impact that a poor or ineffective manager had on us both inside and outside of work.
Managing staff can be difficult and challenging at times, but it is a teachable and learnable skill. Practical steps you might want to take could include:
- Line manager training for new managers covering all aspects of people management and providing guidance on how to use informal and formal processes
- Refresher sessions for existing managers to hone their skills and provide updates on new management practices
- Mentoring opportunities, buddying up newly promoted managers with more experienced managers
- Policy guides, to support managers in the practical application of policies
- Feedback mechanisms for line managers in place to celebrate those who are developing their skills and to direct enable focused support to be provided for to those who need further development
So, if your organisation is not currently teaching line managers these key skills, perhaps now is a good time to review your current practices and consider some changes. Improving line manager skillsets and supporting their development will ensure more effective people management practices, leading to better engagement and retention of all staff.