How HR can develop better managers

Sara Holmberg
November 22, 2022
How HR can develop better managers

Most HR leaders care deeply about developing better managers who uplift, nurture, and coach their teams. But often managers are adrift in a sea of responsibility, with little support and less bandwidth to empower better leadership.

Poor management is a major driver for disengagement, poor performance, and turnover. Our latest report "Fighting Turnover" shows just that, 75% are more likely to leave a manager who aren’t open and honest.

Upskilling managers must therefore be a major priority—but unless it’s simple and fast for managers to do the right things, nothing will change. Let’s unpick that, and explore a simple, fast way to empower better managers.


Are your leaders a turnover machine or loyalty lever?

In ‘The science behind effective organisations’ we analysed more than 600 research studies to understand what makes great businesses tick. We learned that effective leadership at individual, team, and organisational level is one of the nine critical factors influencing employee engagement.

These findings won’t surprise you. It makes sense that managers have an enormous impact on employee engagement, because managers are the primary lens through which your people experience work. Great days rarely happen without great managers.

The upshot is, managers have long roots. And like roots, they can either strengthen and support your organisation’s growth, or they can creep outwards, creating stress and fractures.

Heaps of research backs this up. For example, one study finds that a 1% increase in effective leadership drives a 53.6% increase in organisational performance.

"A 1% increase in effective leadership drives a 53.6% increase in organisational performance."

Impact of Leadership on Organisational Performance.

But these ideas are hardly revolutionary. For years business and HR leaders have recognised the truth of this and worked hard to improve the standard of leadership across the organisation. The problem is, progress hasn’t followed suit.


Why does manager development fall short?

According to most studies building strong leadership is a major priority for HR leaders for 2023. The fact this is still an important focus area proves we haven’t nailed leadership development yet: but why?

At Winningtemp we work with many HR teams with oversight over hundreds of people leaders across their organisations. From what we’ve seen, it’s very often an issue of theory versus practice.

When organisations want to improve their managers, they often focus on training and upskilling. That’s great. But without also focussing on empowering managers to behave differently, training is only theoretical. It does little to change your people’s daily experiences with their manager.

Likewise, organisations often don’t initiate the right processes or accountability to incentivise different behaviour. If managers’ performance is measured in the same ways, why would they change? And if you can’t track how they’re performing, how will you know if this change happens?

We’ve talked before about how progress depends on engagement becoming your new cultural reality. Your managers are an essential part of that process—but change won’t happen just by enrolling them into training and forgetting about it. Rather, you must equip them with the right practical tools to turn learning into better daily leadership.


Do your managers have the right tools to lead effectively?

Let’s first define what we mean by effective leadership. Looking back to ‘The science behind effective organisations‘, a couple of ideas leapt out. First, we found that the leader-member exchange (LMX) model plays an essential role in determining leaders’ impact on performance and motivation. This LMX model is a relationship-based leadership approach that focusses on a two-way dynamic characterised by trust, loyalty, and respect.

Our analyses also found that supportive leaders who proactively coach employees have the greatest impact on reducing sick leave (did you know there's 7 questions that can prevent your team from burnout?). In summary: great manager relationships are trust-based, respectful, supportive, two-way and based on coaching. Relationships like this guard against absenteeism and build commitment, loyalty, engagement, and performance.

Now– how do you take that beyond theory into practice? It starts from understanding the practicalities of your managers’ day-to-day roles. In our experience, most managers want to manage well. But they’re also busy, stressed, and juggling a million plates. And often they don’t know how best to handle different situations in their team, especially given today’s endless disruption.

What managers need to be better managers, is a tool that makes it easy and fast to consistently do the right things for their team. That makes it easy and fast to build a two-way, trust-based, supportive relationship. That’s where the right employee experience platform comes in.


Empowering manager development

An AI-powered employee experience platform sends weekly personalised pulse surveys to your people, giving managers constant (and always anonymous) insights into what’s going on for their team. It goes way beyond telling managers what’s wrong, rather it helps them to proactively lead their team.

“Our goal was to provide managers with a tool to continuously measure and understand how their people are doing. This has helped management act more quickly", said Avega Group about Winningtemp.

Empowering more valuable 1:1s, making it easy for managers to record issues, goals, and progress is also key. With Winningtemp, managers and employees can invite each another to meetings so rather than being top-down, the whole process becomes two-way. It gives every employee a voice and makes it easy for managers to listen.

Winningtemp also creates accountability and visibility over your whole manager ecosystem, to encourage and track progress as your managers become better people leaders. Production Supervisor Christer Snäll agrees by saying By collecting questions and feedback from the group and talking about them, I’ve been able to grow as a leader”.

Sounds good? Watch our two-minute demo video to learn more about Winningtemp.

With a strong background in legal and HR consulting in firms such as Fingerprint Cards, PwC and Flex, she joined Winningtemp as Head of HR in August 2021. Sara is passionate about people and believes that the future of work and HR is moving towards an approach where employees feel valued and have the tools to reach their potential. To achieve this aim, she’s focused on working to give employees their desired level of autonomy within their roles, creating a rewards system that focuses on recognising and understanding the needs of employees, from financial welfare to mental health. Additionally, her commitment to wellbeing is shown by her work as a board member at Räddningsmissionen, a Swedish charity working for social rights ensuring everyone has access to a dignified life.

About the author
Sara Holmberg

Focusing on people

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