Why Line Managers are Your Most Powerful Retention Tool
Even though the job market is improving, research from OIPartners shows that many employers are becoming increasingly concerned about losing talent in the year ahead. Yes, the survey showed that the number of firms experiencing higher turnover this year increased dramatically from last year with 51 percent having higher turnover in 2013 compared to just 30 percent who had higher turnover in 2012. They found that turnover was affecting all areas and levels of the business and so retention is a serious issue that talent management professionals should be focusing on more than ever.
But, retention is a big area where can employers focus their attention to get the biggest bang for their buck in the shortest space of time. As we have talked about in previous articles, there are many complicated reasons that employee leave and it can be a complicated chain reaction of events, but one recurring theme that I have noticed is the impact that the employee’s direct manager has on whether the employee leaves or not.
For example, a PwC survey of 19,000 employees found that the second most common reason that employees quit is due to the supervisor lacking respect. While a Gallup survey of 44 organizations across 10,000 business units found that poor management was one of the top 4 reasons that people were leaving too. But, poor line management takes on a much higher significance in employee retention than these surveys show because not only is it a direct cause of turnover, its has the power to indirectly and negatively influence all the other drivers of turnover within your business such as: lack of career development/promotion opportunities, inadequate pay, boring job. In fact, many of these can be bi-products of poor management or inversely be alleviated by good line management
This is why a line manager has a pivotal role to play in your retention program and it is therefore not surprising that the OIPartners survey found that the top method that employees were using to retain staff was coaching programs. Employers were focusing on developing management and leadership skills across their workforce as a means of retaining staff.
So, it is clear that in order to attract and retain talent, one of the most powerful potential tools in your arsenal is the empowered, equipped and highly able line manager. And in order to do this you should focus on identifying weak managers in your business who may be eroding morale and increasing turnover in your business—and then addressing it. Clear signs may be a department or business unit that is suffering excessively high turnover levels.
But, there are other signs of bad line management that may be occurring before turnover occurs, e.g. those from a University of Florida study that showed common signs of a bad boss, and these were:
- Thirty-one percent (31%) of respondents reported that their supervisor gave them the “silent treatment” in the past year.
- Thirty-seven percent (37%) reported that their supervisor failed to give credit when due.
- Thirty-nine percent (39%) noted that their supervisor failed to keep promises.
- Twenty-seven percent (27%) noted that their supervisor made negative comments about them to other employees or managers.
- Twenty-four percent (24%) reported that their supervisor invaded their privacy.
- Twenty-three percent (23%) indicated that their supervisor blames others to cover up mistakes or to minimize embarrassment.
So whether as part of exit interviews, employee satisfaction surveys or observations, employers should monitor line manager effectiveness and address any weaknesses in order to maximize staff retention during this current phase of high employee turnover.