Throughout the business world, managers rely on their employees to deliver results. Managers realize there is a never-ending war for top talent and count on their HR partners to bring in the candidates who are qualified and, in the best-case scenario, passionate about the organization or brand too. Working in tandem with HR, managers screen the brightest and hire the best with the promise of tapping into that passion they bring with them.
New employees look forward to putting their passions to work and developing new skills and capabilities. For the new hires, Day 1 is full of possibilities and opportunities for a bright future. Add a manager who is eager to bring on a much-needed and talented team member to a new employee who is excited to contribute, and you have a recipe for success. Right?
Breaking Up is Hard To Do
Well, for some new employees, this eagerness doesn’t last long. They soon lose that initial passion and end up leaving … within their first 90 days! Why? What happens to disrupt things so quickly? Did HR select the wrong candidate? Did the manager overlook something in the interview process? HR and managers are left wondering what went awry and trying to figure out how they can hire the “right candidate” next time.
Here’s the reality: our experience tells us the right candidate was hired. And often, new employees leave because of their managers. That’s right. But don’t assume your organization is staffed with bad managers. In most cases, managers are constantly trying to do the right thing – just like their employee counterparts. They arrive at their job committed, with passion and excitement. They want to be great managers who engage their employees and connect them to the business. Yet they fall short because they simply don’t have the tools and support to make this happen.
Managers + Training ≠ Investing
For managers to engage and connect with their employees in a way that maintains and heightens their passion and garners the greatest contribution, they must have the tools and the time. And research proves – managers just don’t have either. In fact, a Progressive Business Publication study revealed that 52% of companies only trained their managers once a year or less. Without the right guidance and support from the leadership team, managers can’t do their jobs well … and are doomed to fail as mentors, coaches and team leaders. Instead of supporting new employees, managers often thrust them directly into the work, partially or completely bypassing onboarding, training, and ongoing coaching, yet with expectations for greatness.
Without taking the time to invest in their employees’ development, managers can find having micro-managing. Or perhaps team members think they’re doing their work properly, only to find out later that it fails to meet their manager’s expectations – because the manager didn’t take the time to properly set up the project, the deliverables or the expectations from the start. So managers begin asking people to take on tasks instead of projects or initiatives, and employees find their ideas for how they can best contribute to the organization falling on deaf ears. The end result? All parties quickly become frustrated.
When managers don’t have the time or resources, they can become jaded and are no longer thinking about the development of their employees, but just getting through the day. Team members become disengaged, unmotivated and feel abandoned by the manager they had once had so much faith in … and are left wondering what happened to their dreams, passions, and excitement.
90 Days are the Most Critical
Our experience tells us that the first 90 days of an employee’s tenure are the most critical. Once you lose someone’s passion, or once your employee fails to trust their manager, all the time, effort and funds spent recruiting that person has been wasted. Keeping people engaged, inspired and contributing over that 90-day time period is crucial. But because of the challenges discussed above (and then some) managers are unsure how to change the pattern of high turnover. So they come to expect the loss of the best and brightest to competitors. They often feel as if they are, or are labeled as, “bad managers.” In many instances, it’s not their fault. They lack the resources to support their success, or are never properly trained on how to do this in the first place.
The 2015 study, “America’s Workforce: A Revealing Study of Corporate America’s Most Neglected Employee,” told us that 57% of respondents believe their manager training programs aren’t supported by senior leadership. This is a massive missed opportunity, as other studies prove that companies with senior leaders who coach, develop and hold others accountable for coaching and development are three times more effective at producing improved business and talent results.
So if leaders aren’t investing in their own reports, why would anyone else? The result is managers who haven’t been invested in, which leads to employees who are unsupported and, therefore, get disillusioned. If that’s the problem, we need to look at partnerships between managers and leaders of the business.
Even the best managers need time to spend training and coaching their employees. They need the investment outside of their regular job to build the skills to engage a team. Managers need the tools to onboard and continuously develop their teams – and themselves! They need to know what to say so they are consistently involving their teams in relevant topics across the business. The responsibility for these deliverables falls largely on the leadership team, including HR partners.
So … do great employees leave great companies that have bad managers?
Or do great employees leave companies that fail their managers?