Develop Your Managers....It's Not Rocket Science

Brian Beck PHR, MHROD
December 18, 2008 — 1,650 views  
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The first question is this...does your organization conduct exit interviews?  If not, please start.  If you do, what do those exits say?  Why are people leaving?  Without a doubt, all of the reasons for leaving with the exception of three are related to management.  The three reasons not related are "military relocation," "relocation in general," and retirement.  In order to start an effective management development program, these surveys, as well as employee opinion surveys, must be studied.  Take all of that data, and summarize it.  Bring it down to the top 3 areas that employees are concerned about in regards with management.  My guess is that nearly 95% of the data will point to a lack of 3 things in your organization's leadership:  respect, recognition and communication.

Respect-

HR people, teach your managers that respect is a two-way street.  Gone are the days when workers respect titles.  This item will gain respect, but only when managers offer it first.  Respect employees by inspiring them, teaching them, loving them, igniting their passion for work through servant leadership.  Managers need to be there for staff.  Employees want to be heard each day, given opportunities, trained, developed, encouraged and driven.  However, teach managers to drive in a way that doesn't jeopardize losing an employee.  I once heard a manager say, "I'm firm but fair."  My response to that was maybe this manager didn't need to be in management.  Firm but fair doesn't operate well at all in 21st century management.  Ask managers who have tried to rule with an iron fist, or strongly (very strongly) encourage members of their teams to "step up."  In the book Good to Great, Jim Collins refers to "getting the right people on the bus."  I have heard many managers take that to an extreme, often telling staff to either "get on the bus, or get off."  Why would managers offer such a choice to employees?  Are people really that terrible?  Do some managers dislike employees who may be troubled, not up to par, or disengaged that much that managemers refuse to develop, train and mentor staff?  That is what respect is all about.  Respect the employee, train the employee, give the employee the tools that they need to get the job done.  Finally, above all, be there to pick a person up when they fail.  That is the ultimate aspect of personal respect for team members.

Recognition-

Did you know that simply telling employees "thank you" is equivalent to a 1% pay increase?  Now, the thank yous must be sincere and supported.  Otherwise employees see right through the lip service.  Expand on recognition programs, looking beyond gift cards, money and certificates suitable for framing.  Decide on a gift that really hits home with the employee, that really defines who this person is.  In order to do that, your managers must first be out and about in a facility, seen by staff, heard by staff, and most importantly, be supported by senior management to offer top notch recognition programs and fun events.  Don't let these kinds of things be tossed out with the 2009 budget cuts.  Your organization needs lots of recognition programs in place.  Try Safety Bingo...it's a huge hit at our hospital, increases morale, is a good recognition program, and has lowered our number of injuries by 35% YTD and lowered our incurred costs by 93%. 

Communication-

Big.....Big items here!  People engage in listening constantly during our days.  In fact, we are actively engaged in listening 70% of our day.  However, less than 5% of organizations actually train managers on how to listen more effectively.  There is so much noise that goes on during a manager's day.  Phone calls, emails, meetings, staff issues, boss issues, corporate issues, department issues, deadlines and pressures.  Can you honestly say that these guys get even 50% of what their employees try to communicate with managers each day?  Probably not.  Teach managers how to engage in active listening.....to give the employee the floor, to reach out and show that the manager cares simply by focusing communication on the dialogue with the employee.  It will pay huge dividends.

Respect + Recognition + Communication = Retention

Why?  If your organization can drive these three concepts into management development, follow up and continuously re-train on similar concepts, your company won't have much in the way of exit interviews.  Our hospital has dropped our number of open job reqs by 95% since February of 2008.  That's really good stuff for a 95-bed hospital.  How?  As the Director of HR, I continously design training and development programs for our managers and leaders that focus around respect, recognition and communication.  Constant and consistent training programs yield good managers.  As I have told both my students and participants in seminars I have been lucky enough to facilitate, companies are not in a recruitment crisis, but a retention crisis.  Pay attention to why people are leaving and your organization won't need to worry so much about open job reqs......you simply won't have as many.  It's pretty simple actually. 

Brian Beck PHR, MHROD

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Brian J. Beck, PHR, M.H.R.O.D., has worked in the human resources field for over 15 years, focusing on recruitment/retention, HR strategic planning, organization and leadership development.