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Managers: Do We Expect Too Much and Give Too Little?

I have the utmost respect for Supervisors, Leaders and Managers – (for simplicity sake, I will refer to the entire spectrum as “Managers” for the remainder of this blog.) We ask them for so much, yet at times, provide them with so little. What am I referring to? Please let me elaborate.

First of all, I must admit I love learning about management theory, especially Human Resources (HR) management theory. In the myriad of courses I have taken, a few things about the expectations around managers really stood out. The first is, how a manager is supposed to adapt his/her communication style to suit the style of the person they are communicating with. This, of course, assumes that the manager is aware of the communication styles there are and if she/he is aware of their own communication style. Next, understanding the Power Distance Relationship and how it affects cross-cultural communication. Living in Canada, with our amazing cultural and ethnic diversity, makes this a topic managers should be aware of. Imagine if your span of control was 30-40 individuals – one would almost need a PhD in communications to manage it all!

Last, but not least, is the managers’ role in Change Management Theory. Although there should always be a qualified change agent/expert to assist, the manager is ultimately responsible for getting his/her group on-board with the change. Quite the responsibility for anyone, let alone a manager who is also dealing with the change themselves! Are you getting an inkling of why I have so much respect for managers?

Let’s look at where managers come from. Sometimes, you are fortunate enough to have the time to recruit a fully qualified manager from an external source. Fantastic. Now they just need to find the way in your organizations culture – but that’s another day. Frequently, managers are promoted from within. Sometimes, this is a sign of a formalized succession plan; but all too often, the individual happens to be the ‘next most senior employee’ and has a decent performance record. Suddenly, they are thrust into a role that requires an additional skill set that she/he does not have. Now what?

Quite often, it is sink or swim. OK, I admit there are a few ‘natural leaders’, who have a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) and just know how to handle challenging situations intuitively. I firmly believe this is the exception and not the rule. Most of the ‘good’ managers I have met have consciously worked at honing the craft of leadership. So what happens when you fail to provide a manager the necessary training and development to be successful in a role?

It costs you. Not just money, although that is the metric we most easily understand. Think of the emotional fall-out that managers go through when they don’t have the proper training. Embarrassment. Frustration. Disengagement. This lack of training and development frequently leads to voluntary turnover (and not just the manager). Research has shown that up to 75% of voluntary turnover is influenced by the managers’ behaviour. What does this mean for the employer? The very likely possibility of decreased sales and service levels, expending time and money recruiting new staff. This is a cycle that can be very costly.

While I recognize that small and medium sized businesses may not have the budget for huge, high-end training and development programs, it appears that they are aware of the value of training and development and plan to spend on it. An HRIA survey showed that (in all provinces and sectors) investment in learning and development grew in the last half of 2016. Pretty amazing considering what has been happening in Alberta the last 2 years.

Who (above Managers) am I in awe of? Business leaders – who understand the value in training and development and then invest in their employees.

Interested in exploring cost effective training options for your managers or employees new to a supervisory role? Check out Salopek’s 2017 Training Workshop Program, which offers five 2-hour workshops throughout the year on essential training topics, providing on-going learning opportunity on managerial and HR best practices. Contact Salopek to Register Today!


Sources: – Management skills 202: Adapt your communication to different styles – Roles in change management

Shift Learning – The true cost of not providing employee training

Cornerstone – How to create all-star managers that employees love

HRIA – Western Canadian HR Trends Report: Fall 2016

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