This article relates to the Manager/Supervisor competency, commonly evaluated in employee satisfaction surveys. This competency evaluates an employee's feelings regarding their direct manager or supervisor. The manager/supervisor competency covers topics like clarity of goals, manager support, coaching and feedback, and regular reviews of performance. The old adage that “people leave their managers, not organizations" is often true. Of all the workplace stressors, a bad immediate manager is one of the worst and will directly impact the emotional health, productivity, and retention of an employee. This competency can be especially insightful if your organization is losing quality employees while your compensation and benefit packages are equivalent with industry standards.
This article, Managerial Influence, is part of AlphaMeasure's compilation, Tales from the Corporate Frontlines. This article tells the story of an HR department that diagnoses and deals with a managerial problem after recognizing its effects on the organization's employees.
I recently accepted an HR Staff position at a prominent company in a nearby city. The job required relocation, but was well worth the move. I was very excited as I prepared to begin this new phase of my career.
My first day on the job brought the usual orientation activities, followed by an important meeting. The entire department was deeply involved in collecting and organizing the results of a recent employee satisfaction survey that had been conducted online. Once the organization was complete, the results would be presented to upper management for analysis and action.
"Hmmmm. There it is again, " my manager mused several times during the course of the meeting. Later, I asked another coworker what she'd meant. “Just a bad situation involving the former manager of the purchasing department, " she told me. Apparently, the manager of that department had recently been let go. This coworker seemed to relish telling me the story, so I let her continue. " We were just losing too many great employees. We'd hire workers with superb qualifications. They'd stay a little while and then they'd leave. Some gave two weeks notice and others just disappeared. The exit interviews were horrible - when it came to comments about the manager. They liked the company, the work, the pay and benefits, but it just wasn't enough. " This person's “management style" caused more stress and emotional harm than some employees were willing to tolerate. Then the productivity studies came out, and the problem was even more obvious-even those who stayed on were doing less work, and the standard of performance for the whole department had dropped. Upper management reviewed all of the information and the manager was tactfully “let go".
I asked if things had improved since and was told that they most certainly had. A new manager had been promoted from within, which boosted morale among the remaining employees. Some new hires were settling in and productivity appeared to be on the mend. The employees in the purchasing department were thriving on the positive feedback, coaching, and support that had been sorely missed.
I thought about the HR department's role in this situation and realized how important it is for us to spot this type of problem early on. Managers represent the face of the company to hundreds of employees every day. We need to monitor their progress and be sure that they're putting their best foot forward every day if we want to be a great place to work and stay productive.
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Josh Greenberg is President of AlphaMeasure, Inc.
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