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Do employees really leave the manager, not the company?

It has become a cliche, and, like most cliches, there is a mix of truth and fallacy.

So what does the average employee look for at work?
  • High pay?
  • Constant access to social media?
  • Extensive leave?
  • Very flexible hours?
Well, yes, but research and empirical evidence also shows:
  • Fair treatment 
  • Growth
  • Pleasant colleagues
  • Pleasant working environment
A manager who is demotivating can undo any positive effects that great corporate policies can have, while a great manager can mitigate the effects of a less people sensitive business strategy.

Some ideas that work some of the time

  • Discuss your reason for being there
    • Sometimes we forget our business purpose or the difference we make to our clients, suppliers and various stakeholders.   Discuss it with your people, if you manufacture chocolate its easy to cover the "we make people feel good" side, but what if you do aluminium sidings?   Find the value in what you do, and share it with everybody.
    • At +Accsys (Pty) Ltd we have discussed that there are many reasons for doing what we do, and a significant reason for being is that we are responsible for ensuring that a significant portion of the population are paid.

  • Recognise successes
    • It can be money, but a thank you is sometimes all that is needed.  There are managers who ask why they should thank people for doing their jobs.  I know that being appreciated feels good.  When I cook a meal at home, it makes a difference if my family enjoys it, and says so.  It makes me want to do it again!   Its the same at work, positive reinforcement builds an environment where doing your job really well is the minimum standard.
    • At +Accsys (Pty) Ltd , we have an Employee of the Month award which has been going for over twelve years.   Everybody votes, and the peer recognition and comments have become a strong part of our culture.

  • Servant Leadership
    • While many managers also have operational jobs, a key function is to smooth the path for employees, enabling and empowering them.
    • Spend time with your employees, understanding their road blocks and difficulties, and try to fix them.  Its not always possible, but trying and being on their side, builds trust and opens up paths to more effective working conditions.
    • At +Accsys (Pty) Ltd, we have a monthly CEO breakfast and every staff member in our Head Office branch gets time each year with the CEO to discuss issues and strategies.  A different model is used for the distant offices

  • Mentorship, Coaching and Appraisals
    • Everybody needs somebody, ask Barbra Streisand
    • Mentorship is a skill set, but future leaders need to be mentored and coached, as do current ones
    • Coaching has become a critical part of managing effectively.
    • If a manager has no positive input to give, then how is the team being managed?
    • As a coach, you need to give positive and negative input as quickly as possible after the event, as well as direction on how to do it differently next time.   Both positive and negative should form part of coaching and growth
    • We all answer to somebody, so as managers we run the risk of promoting our own expertise at the expense of our staff - remember, a great team reflects well on their manager
    • At +Accsys (Pty) Ltd, we have moved from standardised appraisals, to an expectation model where manager and employer share their expectations of the role and a way forward

  • Fair Treatment
    • This is a difficult one, because it sometimes comes down to people perceiving that other staff members are "getting away" with not contributing, but managers are not always aware that the perception is out there 
    • I remember reading in one of Jack Welch's books that if you fire somebody, don't promise confidentiality because the rest of the staff should know what behaviour is acceptable and what isn't.  I also admire the late Jackie Onassis who clearly believed "Never explain yourself".   So which is it?   Sometimes, the employee body needs to know that management has made tough decisions, sometimes not.  Its a tough call.
  • Growth
    • Training and skills development are important to most working people
    • Managers need to spend the time to understand the ambitions of the individuals on the team
which leads to last, but not least

  • Pleasant Colleagues and Environment
    • Neither are always possible
    • Putting together people who work well together is an ideal, but not always practical
    • Management do need to stay on top of work place bullying and unsafe conditions, though.

In summary, managers can and should make the difference.  Not every manager has a cheer leader approach, but constantly working to ensure that the working environment is positive, that people can express their opinions constructively, and be heard, that better tools will be available when it is possible, that growth is an objective, will all go a long way to keeping everybody motivated, including the managers....

Links, References and Notes

email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn


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