HR strategy? People strategy? Employer brand strategy? EX/Employee Experience strategy?
Whatever your opinion is about the role of HR in your company there’s no doubt anymore that creating a fair, supportive, rewarding and engaging experience for your employees has a direct positive effect upon your business. In short, investing in your people pays off.
But if you had limited time, resources and money to devote to this, where would you focus your energy? If you could do just one thing to create the best experience possible for your employees, what would you do?
For me, this is a no-brainer. Manage your people well.
A simple google search will bring up a multitude of studies that show that people leave their jobs when they are not managed well. Likewise, they will be loyal and engage when they have a great manager.
Yet in all my years working, consulting, and auditing HR programmes, I’ve seen very few organisations who put good people-management skills in a prominent place in their people strategies. It’s almost like it’s assumed, but by being assumed it can go completely under the radar. And it’s so fundamental to daily life at work that it can work against otherwise great people initiatives.
Opportunities For Every Business
The good news is that managing people really well can be free and easy. You can do it without fancy technology, without years of study, without complex programmes. With good people management, you can manage performance, develop people, address challenges, hire effectively, and cope really well with the daily ups and downs of business. And yes of course you can add the bells and whistles HR systems on top of a foundation of good people management.
I have worked a lot with SMEs at a point in their growth where people issues are suddenly at the top of the agenda and it’s understandable why in a company of 30,50,100 or more you can have a lack of strong people management skills. Most SMEs start from nothing and grow organically; everyone rolls their sleeves up and does a bit of everything. People who have strong skills in an area end up managing that thing as it grows into a key function of the business. These people are often entrepreneurial and specialists in their own subject, not in leading and managing a team. An SME at this point in it’s evolution would be smart to recognise that it would benefit to put in these skills before the company balloons any more.
However, it’s not just SMEs where a deficit of these skills exists. I’ve worked with a wide range of larger organisations and it’s rife there too. I’ve worked with companies that have thousands of employees and have won awards for their HR and employership, yet the daily lives of some employees are hellish simply because they have managers who can’t manage.
Assessing Your Current Management Culture
Reflecting on your company it’s often interesting to consider these questions:
1) How would you score the current quality of daily leadership and management out of 10?
2) How would you score the daily consistency of management quality across your teams out of 10?
3) Do you have a culture where employees are completing their deliverables without the need for micro-management?
4) Do some teams consistently perform better than others against business requirements?
5) Do you currently conduct exit interviews/capture feedback when people leave? If so, have there been instances where a manager has been the reason for that employee leaving?
Answering these can start to build the picture of where your existing management culture is and the opportunities you may have to improve performance in this area.
Whereas it’s perfectly understandable how top talent gets promoted into management positions, it’s not always clear why companies don’t screen for the ability to manage before that promotion, train to prepare high potential people before promotions, or at least provide effective training after that promotion. However, I’ve seen companies ignore this over and over and over. In my experience, part of the reason that poor people management is rife is because no one actually owns it. Unlike many people initiatives (think performance management, benefits schemes, rewards and recognition etc), people management happens regardless of whether you facilitate it or not. If there’s more than one person in a company, people management is at play. And often, because no one owns that, it can go under the radar.
The good news is that this can be relatively easy to fix – depending on the individuals, the organisation and the culture. The bad news is that without good people management the bells and whistles won’t function properly. It takes work for a company to get good at this and sometimes there are painful decisions that need to be made. However, until a company looks the people management issue in the face, it can be like a big fat elephant sitting in the corner.
Don’t host that elephant. Manage your people well.
If you’re interested to explore the opportunity of further developing management capability in your business or have any questions, the Rencai Team would love to talk.
We look forward to connecting with you soon.
The Rencai Team