Employees will always appreciate making money, but a paycheck alone no longer holds them in their seats. Research shows that purpose and personal development matter much more to modern workers. The quickest way to ensure their job satisfaction is through a stellar workplace journey, from recruitment to promotion.
Supervisors are in key positions to foster that kind of employee experience (EX). In fact, Gallup discovered that 70% of the difference between high- and low-producing teams depends on the manager. However, the only way leaders will become better coaches and advocates is through a company’s devotion to another concept: manager experience (MX). In fact, MX has become a much-discussed subject among business leaders.
The good news is that to help bolster MX, many corporations have put a premium on grooming managers. In “The Manager Experience: Top Challenges & Perks of Managers,” Gallup found that two-thirds of responding supervisors have access to corporate-run professional development opportunities. Unfortunately, only a third of managers feel they’ve had actual chances to grow during the past 12 months. In other words, they are getting training that leads to no real improvement in how they manage others or understand their own progress.
Without a doubt, top-notch MX is a prerequisite to enjoying the efficiency and morale that come from improved EX. Millennials have been quite verbal with pollsters about choosing bosses over brands when seeking employment. And more than half (52%) of resigning workers say a stronger manager could have kept them from jumping ship.
If your company’s MX hasn’t been a priority, it’s time to move it to the top of the list. Employ these strategies to turn your managers into true corporate assets.
- Leave no doubt when it comes to expectations.
Many supervisors struggle to understand their priorities amid ambiguous goals and a staggering project list. In those situations, they usually don’t know whether they’ve made the right choices until they get kudos — or brickbats. Writing in Harvard Business Review, Peter Hopper and Jugnu Sakuja of the Strategic Decisions Group argue that “Understanding where to focus and when is one of the most important things a senior team can do,” and communicating that understanding is key.
In other words, don’t keep your managers in the dark: Outline exactly what you expect of them and their teams. Set up weekly check-ins to review their agendas. Help them weigh and coordinate their major to-do items, always illustrating how completing their responsibilities dovetails with organizational objectives. Be sure to give them the tools and structure they need to achieve success. You may even want to incentivize task completions.
- Play to managers’ strengths.
Every leader has natural talents and abilities. Still, 11% of them are less apt to say that they can lean in to their strengths on the job, according to “The Manager Experience.” At the same time, some may not know exactly how to blend their abilities with what their roles require.
Work with your managers to not only uncover what they’re really good at doing, but also how they can use those skills when playing a mentorship role. Literally create a list with each supervisor, outlining where he or she excels and how those capabilities apply to management. You may also want to have your managers take a personality or strengths test to further explore their aptitudes. Over time, individuals who learn how to play their best cards can better handle the challenges that come with management. Plus, you can guide their development focus more easily if you’ve already had discussions about their areas of mastery.
- Empower supervisors to coach, not boss.
The old-school philosophy of the uber-aggressive, know-it-all boss has left the building for the foreseeable future. Today’s managers must customize their leadership styles, operating like captains and coaches, not dictators. Jerry Connor, the head of coaching at global professional services firm BTS, is a huge supporter of turning managers into mentors for the good of the business. As he explains, “Quality coaching improves relationships between employees and managers, helps people develop in their careers, and empowers employees to be mindful in their work.”
Of course, coaching takes more time than strictly laying down the law, and it requires more upfront development resources. Managers may not understand how to help others maximize their full potential through a mixture of listening empathetically, offering feedback, and fostering creative thinking. Train your strongest people to become the Vince Lombardis of their departments through systematic coaching techniques. Consider offering coaching programs and workshops to all supervisors.
Beyond constructing an employee-centered company built on a culture of respect and fairness, take time to invest in your managers. They’re the productivity-building bridges between your frontline workers and the C-suite’s objectives. As such, they can make or break the longevity and profitability of your brand.
Written by Rhett Power.
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