Is Britain’s productivity problem bad managers?
Guest Blog by Iain Thomson, Director of Incentives and Recognition at Sodexo Engage
Productivity has slowed down to worrying levels. According to research, Brits are falling behind the likes of France and Germany, taking five days to produce what others can achieve in four. There’s no ignoring the importance of productivity for our economy and the effect of bad managers on employee engagement is part of the problem. The numbers prove it – teams with high employee engagement rates are 22% more productive.
Some organisations are underprepared and often not willing to invest in good managers. You might have heard the phrase ‘people leave managers, not companies’. The ongoing relationship between managers and employees is crucial if a company wants to get the best of their teams.
What we often see is that if you’re good at your job, you get ‘made the manager’. But the reality is, effective management involves a host of skills that don’t necessarily always come naturally to the individual. So, what are the qualities of a good manager and what can employers do to make sure they’re not only putting the right people in place, but encouraging them to do their best?
Not a good but a great leader
Managers need to be a role model, a mentor and a coach all in one. Managers should lead with empathy to motivate and inspire their teams. Like it or hate it, leaders are judged by their everyday decisions, their treatment of employees and their ability to build trust. This is what makes the difference between a good and bad manager.
It’s also important that managers are honest and transparent in their approach. Rather alarmingly, Sodexo Engage’s recent Employee Engagement Survey which was conducted amongst UK workers around the country found that only 17% of employees ‘strongly agree’ that they trust their line manager to treat them fairly and make the right decisions.
Employees and the growing millennial workforce, in particular, don’t enjoy the old command and control management style. Instead they value a manger who can coach them and help build on their strengths. The ability for managers to communicate effectively and build meaningful relationships with their team is more important than ever.
Overcoming the roadblocks
Putting the right managers in the job is a given, but senior leaders shouldn’t underestimate the role they play in hiring and promoting the right employees for the job. They should be looking more at the skills these individuals possess rather than feeling obliged to promote those who’ve served their time in the company.
Much like junior staff, managers need regular access to training and emotional engagement too. Alongside the traditional appraisal system, managers need to be provided with consistent feedback, help and advice on their own careers.
It’s important that senior staff take the time to be more aware of what managers are doing daily. Observing and supporting them when needed, whilst resisting the urge to scrutinise. It’s also worth considering that individuals learn how to lead from observing their own bosses – so it’s vital that senior executives lead by example too. This way, managers will learn and understand how to do their role effectively.
For a team to work at its best, employers should be paying close attention to the role managers play. They have the power to motivate staff. Organisations that invest the time and effort in choosing the right candidate for the job and focus on regular coaching will reap the rewards. With the right plan in place, organisations will no doubt see a boost in their productivity levels.