Why You Must Build Management Capability

Why You Must Build Management Capability

(part 1 of 2)

In the past, organizations have clung to the belief that as long as they had competitive products and services, they could enhance their performance by hiring strong leadership and top talent. While this focus has worked in some cases, in today’s highly competitive labor market—and yes, it is going to get much worse—organizations competing for top talent may be missing the essential managerial skills and processes needed to succeed over the long term.

    Today’s Generation X employees have much higher expectations of what managers should do to support them compared with the prior generation. Furthermore, the new entrants into the workforce, known variously as Generation Y, Millennial or Generation Next, have still greater needs for immediate feedback and development. These young workers are accustomed to praise, reinforcement and time to develop their interests and skills. How can organizations capture and retain this new talent, as well as slightly older up-and-coming leaders?

    Research suggests that most organizations neglect the role of managers, undervalue it and therefore suffer from a lack of strong management capability.  Many valid surveys’ indicates that employees who plan to stay with their current companies are twice as likely as employees who say they might or might not stay to report that their managers recognize their talents and encourage them to use those talents to the fullest extent.

    I would say that the trend that is emerging is not pretty. Today’s managers are also individual co se today’s employees want more from their managers and workplaces, not less. And they are willing to walk out of your workplace if they don’t get it.

    While employees are hungry for praise and eager to get help expanding their capabilities, there is, unfortunately, a corresponding capability gap among managers to give them what they need. This deficit exists for many reasons, including:

Years of downsizing means companies expect more from fewer employees. There simply is not enough time for managers to devote to mentorship and employee development.

·         Insufficient skills. Managers don’t know how to provide feedback and develop people.

·         A dearth of rewards. Managers are rewarded based upon individual contributions and achievements, not their management skills.

·         The mistaken belief that "one size fits all." The same rewards approach won’t motivate everyone.

·         Organizations do not place a high enough value on the role of the manager.

Employees don’t leave companies; they leave their managers (I’ve said this time and time again)
    Employees want managers who will provide goals and direction, feedback and coaching—and who recognize and reward them for good performance. Yet research indicates that managers are not delivering on these expectations. One possible reason is that managers’ roles are not designed to focus on managing people. Most managers spend 90 percent of their time on technical and administrative tasks and only 10 percent of their time on activities related to managing and developing the people who report to them.

    There is a wealth of research indicating that management behavior is a key factor in retention. This is nothing new. Recent research has consistently shown that dissatisfaction with one’s manager is a top reason for leaving the organization.

    More recently, three different research studies—in 1999,. in 2000 and in 2003—examined the factors that predicted whether employees would stay with or leave their current organizations. Some of the most commonly found items predicting intention to leave were:

·         Insufficient feedback and coaching.

·         Insufficient learning and development opportunities.

·         Insufficient reward and recognition for their work.

·         Insufficient sense that their organization values them.

    Management is responsible for delivering on each of these job factors. No one else can affect how an employee feels as dramatically and tangibly as an employee’s immediate manager. The most effective managers are those who know their employees’ strengths and development needs so well that they know which assignments to give based on balancing both organizational needs and those of the employees.

    Coaching and feedback make up one area that is receiving the most attention in organizations today. Employee survey results in company after company are showing that employees want and expect feedback. Research conducted with Gen Xers tells us that this age group not only expects feedback from their managers, but demands it. The Millennial Generation is even more voracious in its need for coaching and input.

    Finally, people want to know that they are appreciated when they do a good job or put in extra effort. Good managers praise employees in ways that raise self-esteem and commitment to the organization. Poor managers just expect it all, and, as a consequence, praise nothing. What they really get is turnover, and lots of it. And then they get less productivity out of the people who do stay.

What actions to take?  Watch your Sunday (October 21, 2012) email for some of the answers


George F. Mancuso
George F. Mancuso, CPC