by Gloria Dunn-Violin

The Human Resource’s assistant sits across the employee who just quit. The main exit interview question is posed. “Why have you decided to leave,” she asks. The employee fidgets in his seat. “I just want to try something different,” is the answer. Another person afraid to tell the truth.

But we know the truth. People don’t leave companies. They leave managers and supervisors! They leave what they view as lack of respect, support, and guidance. They leave because their relationship with their ‘boss’ doesn’t work, and they can’t take it anymore. They leave because they hope to find a better boss elsewhere.

Managers have an awesome job and a pivotal role. They are the wheel that turns their company’s vision into reality through people. They are the voice that translates organizational goals into products and services. They are the guide that encourages their employees’ success. Because of their practices, their companies will succeed or fail.

Unfortunately, not all managers and supervisors know how to perform their jobs. In fact, statistics show that poor managers lose good employees constantly. In a Saratoga Institute study of more than 20,000 exit interviews, poor supervisory behavior was reported as the predominant reason that people quit.

To get ready for the comeback, companies need to make sure their managers have the multiplicity of skills required to do their job. Managers in this role need to understand that their job is about people, not about tasks. If they manage their employees well, the tasks will get done, and productivity and profitability will grow.

Here are some steps to help your managers become more effective:

  1. Do an assessment of managers and supervisors by their employees called 360 Degree Feedback. Managers who want to improve need to know their strengths and challenges as seen by their peers and the people they manage. This is not a punitive tool, but used to help develop a training and mentoring program that will help managers succeed.
  2. A role description that defines not only the job, but the expectations and benchmarks a manager must obtain to be considered of true management quality.
  3. A training program that ensures that managers know their jobs. Management skills include communication, conflict resolution, delegating, problem solving, coaching, and appreciating employees as well as budgeting, planning, and meeting organizational goals.
  4. A monitoring system that makes managers accountable to do their job.
  5. A reward and recognition system for doing a good job.

There are a lot of bright and experienced people within organizations who can participate in a professional growth initiative. Use your seasoned managers, who are doing things right, to mentor new or less successful managers.

Not all people are created equal. Some have potential to be great managers, some have the ability to be great workers, and some have the potential to do both. Promoting people to the role of manager should never be done based on the Peter Principle – promoting people beyond their competency. Never promote without a front-end assessment, training, and a trial run. You depend on your managers to attract, retain, and motivate your employees. Hanging on to poor managers or supervisors can cost you good employees and cut deeply into your bottom line.