Research has found that over 70% of people consider leaving a job because of their manager. For HR teams and organisations, it is vital that these causes are investigated to avoid a cycle of recruiting and the time and money that goes with it. As talent acquisition is becoming increasingly competitive, organisations need to find and keep good employees. So, how do management practises need to change to keep your people happy and reduce leaving rates?
What is it that managers should do to foster an open culture and gain successful employee engagement within their teams? The starting point is addressing manager bad habits, and finding ways to fix the frustrations that put employees off.
We discuss four reasons why people hate their managers, and what organisations can do to improve this:
Taking credit in stakeholder meetings for the team’s hard work, not saying well done after a difficult project is completed, and not recognising the extra hours people put in are all sure fire ways to make employees feel underappreciated.
Simply remunerating people for their time is not enough, especially when it fails to take into account performance. Why should people engage and try hard to improve an area of the business if they can skate by lazily and receive the same? Where is the motivation for them to improve and progress if no gratitude is ever shown for their work?
Managers need to pay more attention to what their people do, offer advice when it’s needed and give praise following a job well done. People feel appreciated when their efforts are noticed and will be more willing to continue trying hard. One way to help keep managers and their teams more in tune is through regular feedback meetings. Meetings can be requested by either side to discuss anything from progression and training opportunities to personal obstacles preventing them from taking the next step, as well as a space to offer praise and feedback on ongoing tasks. If managers welcome these opportunities to better communicate, their people will feel more appreciated and think their boss really cares about their wellbeing.
This can go further by publicly recognising the great work of your people throughout the organisation, promoting a companywide culture of authentic appreciation. Depending on the personalities of your teams, this can resonate further than a simple word in passing. There are a variety of ways to do this, from employee of the month initiatives, noticeboards within your intranet, or simply sending a group email.
The key to all this is making sure that any communication or expression of gratitude sounds genuine, and discussions are filled with empathy, rather than sounding forced, distant or even sarcastic.
No one likes the feeling of someone breathing down their neck, watching their every move. Managers who try to control every little detail will leave their team feeling stressed, under pressure and scared to share their ideas.
Micromanagement is an incredibly common problem - employees express frustration that they can’t just ‘get on and do it’, leading to decreased productivity either through anxiety or spite.
Perhaps the biggest issue is that micromanagement breeds mistrust. Employees feel as though they can’t be trusted to do their jobs, lowering their self-esteem and leading to unmotivated teams.
Training managers to look for the skills in their team, and delegating accordingly will make employees feel confident about pursuing their tasks. By taking a step back, managers can allow their teams to grow, try new things and improve the output of projects much further than if every step is closely monitored.
Creating trust between managers and their teams will ensure better social-integration between employees, creating a more open culture. This is vital as it will make people feel more comfortable raising issues, asking for advice or confiding about personal changes. Regular communication creates a template for building this trust, helping to keep your people within the organisation, rather than looking for a better culture elsewhere.
Part of the responsibilities of a manager is not just overseeing people, but also their time. However, managers have a bad habit of not wanting to say no to key stakeholders and people they want to impress. When the team are working at full capacity, there’s nothing more frustrating that hearing their manager agree to yet another project. Employees feel as though their manager does not appreciate how hard they are working or the extra time they are giving.
Some managers also delegate poorly, which leads to an imbalance of workload throughout their team. Not only does this lead to frustration with managers, but it can also cause discord and resentment between team members who feel unfairly treated.
Managers need to understand the importance of balanced teams. Overworking will lead to burnout and less productivity, not more. Organisation is key to making sure that all tasks are delegated between the team as a whole. If one person is being given too much work, managers need to recognise when extra skills or training may be needed to spread tasks more evenly; in some cases perhaps a promotion or pay rise is required to appreciate their extra talents.
If managers are struggling to organise effectively, automation can help. Chatbot software can create virtual assistants for your people. With the ability to take on a variety of admin tasks, this technology can be a huge asset for balancing workloads, helping both managers and their teams. They can help schedule the next feedback session, identify people in the team to fill new positions, and allow people to request potential roles – keeping communication more open and consistent. Automating admin gives managers more time to focus on their people and plan effective team goals.
When managers are promoted internally, team dynamics can change overnight. Suddenly, your lunch buddy has become your manager, in charge of your progression when they’ve spent years listening to your complaints. Managers are supposed to be neutral, but when pre-existing relationships are there, it’s impossible to just ignore them.
If managers are continually giving one person the best, most creative tasks, and someone else is delegated all the boring jobs, employees will quickly become resentful, both towards their managers and the members of their team getting preferential treatment. Anyone who feels they are being unfairly punished will be the first out the door.
New managers need training to adjust to their new role, rather than being thrown in at the deep end. Making managers more self-aware about how their own feelings may affect their actions will be key to ensuring that no one feels mistreated.
Communication will be vital. Managers need to be shown how to appreciate the different personalities within their team, and how best to work with each one, putting aside past events. Regular one to one meetings will ensure managers properly get to know each person within their team, to learn exactly what they need and how they prefer to work.
Previous friendships don’t have to be cast aside, but managers must be supported in their transition to ensure these relationships and other issues will not affect the new dynamic.
Keeping employees engaged by creating good management practises
Organisations need to ensure that they provide a variety of training to prepare managers for the human side of the job. Honest open communication is the only way to make sure your managers know what the problems are, and how to address them. Feedback sessions should be regularly carried out, any criticisms need to be digested and solutions put in place. If managers cannot accept criticism and be willing to adapt, any issues will never be resolved.
There are a variety of obstacles blocking smoother relationships between managers and their teams, but addressing these four and internally evaluating other potential drawbacks will put your organisation on the right track. And creating a happier culture will feed into the overall engagement plan.
Employee benefits like flexible working and health care provisions will only go so far. If line managers are not helping their teams’ success, supporting them with advice, training and career progression, organisations will continue to face an exodus of their talent and an unengaged workforce.