Anyone who leads others knows how hard it’s been to guide people through a pandemic. Over the last 18+ months, the gap between good managers and bad managers widened. Closing the gap requires a focus on professional developmental improvements in some key areas to make your managers better.
Bad managers are costly. Estimates suggest that bad bosses are costing U.S. companies an estimated $360 billion each year between lost productivity, stress-related health issues, and employee turnover. In addition, employee trust is at an all-time low. Gallup reported that in 2020, less than half of employees (45%) felt strongly that their employer cared about their wellbeing and that dropped to less than one-third of employees (32%) in 2021. Gallup’s research reveals that an employee’s conversation with their manager defines their employee experience, so a bad manager will make or break their experience.
Dr. Stefanie Tignor, Humu’s Director of Analytics, reports that top managers have stayed great throughout the pandemic, “But managers at the bottom are getting worse at communication, listening, and feedback.” Make your managers better by helping them make a shift from manager to coach by investing in those 3 key areas: communication, listening, giving feedback.
Helping your managers visioncast is one way to improve communication and make your managers better. Humu suggests that in 1:1’s, managers ask questions to make sure team members understand and feel personally connected to the team’s direction. Managers need to make it a priority to explain how each employee’s personal work fits into the larger vision of the team and organization. If the team doesn’t have a clear vision, this is a good time to develop one together. Bad managers might need help learning to ask good questions if they’re not used to doing it. Stick to one pre-decided question that’s asked of all team members during 1:1’s as manager communication skills and confidence grows.
Learn to Listen
Becoming a better listener is vital to make your managers better. Sometimes, being a better listener means asking questions before responding. Rather than sharing an opinion, a statistic, or additional information, dive deeper into understanding the perspective or thought shared by a team member. Questions like “tell me how you arrived at that conclusion” or “can you help me understand more about that” opens the door to ongoing dialogue and understanding. Avoid questions that start with “why” because it puts others on the defensive. Make sure to listen to all points of view and collect as much information as possible before arriving at a conclusion.
Creating a culture your employees love requires the opportunity to give and receive feedback. The top complaint of employees who are leaving the workplace is lack of opportunity to give feedback. And employees who are ignored are the most likely people in your organization to leave. Gallup surveys find that one-quarter (25%) of American workers fall into the “ignored” category, and 40% of these employees are actively disengaged. Even negative feedback is better than none at all. Managers who gave “bad” feedback cut the disengaged number to 22%. Make your managers better by encouraging them to give strengths-based feedback to the people on their team.
When you make your managers better, you prevent the fallout of bad leadership on company culture, employee morale, and poor attrition. Begin investing in the development of their communication, listening, and feedback for better organizational health.