IRIS Elements: People management needs to change! image

IRIS Elements: People management needs to change!

UK workplace culture problems raise concerns about management quality and lack of training, prompting HR to take action.

onTuesday, 20 February 2024

Almost one-third of UK workers have quit a job because of workplace culture.

The issue has garnered so much concern that the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has voiced widespread fears about the quality of management in the UK.
Data from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests over 10 million people are line managers, amongst their other duties.

From narcissist oppressors to those simply not skilled in people management, bad managers sap motivation and erode company culture.

No surprises here as the CMI found that 82% of managers have had no formal training in management or leadership!

As HR professionals, we need to up our game to nurture this vital community of middle management more effectively.

How to spot a bad manager?

The most common type of bad manager isn’t usually the ranting, narcissistic oppressor.

They’re something a little more subtle; here are some sure-fire ways of spotting them:

  • People who are unable to articulate or report where they are with projects

  • People who spend the majority of their time dealing with urgent problems

  • Non-team players who see other leaders/peers as barriers or impediments

  • People who are slow with decision-making

  • People who seem to constantly have to resolve down-line people problems

  • People who have difficulty delegating

Also, beware the absent manager.

For me, the worst kind of manager is the absent one.

These people enjoy the rewards of a management role but avoid any kind of meaningful involvement with their teams. 

No direction. No engagement. No thanks! They murder productivity.

What’s even more worrying is their ability to remain invisible within an organisation.

Some companies are completely unaware of them because they are experts in not drawing attention to themselves.

HR must find a way of flushing out bad managers, so they don’t stay concealed.

Monthly employee pulse surveys are an effective way of doing this.

What makes a great manager?

They are a role model. They coach. They appeal to people’s emotions. They are excellent communicators and make it their business to unleash potential.

A rule of thumb is you want managers who have good communication skills, empathy, task delegation, conflict resolution and adaptability.

Good managers successfully create and articulate a shared vision that motivates others and ignites enthusiasm to make sure everyone is on the journey, working towards a shared vision.

Successful individuals in nearly every profession are those who are capable of convincing others to take action.

This ability to persuade is perhaps the single greatest skill set good managers possess.

But to be persuasive, you have to be interested in and understand human behaviour.

You have to be perceptive, empathetic and socially adept.

Focus on training

Management training, or a distinct lack of it, has been an issue since the 1970s and the CMI statistic suggests that 82% of managers are still not receiving it.

Often, people are thrown into managerial roles due to a need, or because it’s the next logical progression for them, but offered no resources on how to handle their new responsibilities.

Being a great manager requires a completely different skill set and an enormous amount of emotional intelligence.

Yes, some people naturally have the skills needed and are born leaders, but many require upskilling.

Training really does make all the difference.

There are many tools and resources businesses can make available at low cost and HR software can help enormously.

For example, a training portal can be populated with plenty of resources, ensuring managers have the tools needed for success.

HR can then track the uptake of these resources by the individual managers.

Also, as a huge amount of anxiety surrounds the role of a manager, with many concerned about the workload implications, good processes are crucial.

Modern HR software offers the tools to automate admin and streamline key aspects such as appraisals, managing leave and objective setting.

Who will be the leaders of tomorrow?

Perhaps no one, according to new research.

A recent study uncovered that only 38% of employees are interested in people manager roles, prompting concerns of a leadership pipeline crisis for businesses across the globe.

Young people don’t want to lead is the light these findings are being painted in.

Most good managerial traits can be taught, but you first need people wanting to embark on the journey.

Bad management needs to be confronted

Don’t be afraid to make managers accountable.

Create clear guidelines, metrics and policies which can be documented, communicated and updated within your HR system.

Performance management plans should clearly explain how manager performance will be evaluated and which systems will be used to evaluate performance (a regular employee pulse survey output being one such measurement system).

Middle management has always been tough and setting clear expectations is important, but that needs to be done without micromanagement.

If businesses move from being task-driven to being productivity-driven, with managers encouraging and enhancing productivity, this can also be an effective performance barometer.

The ability to be great leaders is within all of us and bad bosses typically don’t want to be bad.

They just don’t know they are doing it the wrong way.

In my latest podcast Joey Price, CEO of Jumpstart: HR and I explored how a manager can become more of a ‘coach’ who tunes into the emotional side of management while juggling the needs of the business and the team.

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