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The Power of Managers as Leader-Coaches

It’s become increasingly clear how wide and significant a manager’s impact is on today’s organization. A manager’s value is no longer only measured by how many widgets their team produced last fiscal quarter or how good their compliance record was.

A manager’s potential for helping or harming your business is now felt and measured in ways that are far wider and deeper than those traditional, almost quaint performance standards. For example, Gallup says managers account for 70% of the variance in employee experience. More to the point, managers hold the power to make or break an employee’s experience starting from Day One. Specifically, Gallup research that focused on the manager experience found that managers directly affect:

2x Onboarding: When managers play an active role in onboarding, employees are 2.5 times more likely to strongly agree their onboarding was exceptional.

people-iconPerformance: Only 2 in 10 employees strongly agree that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work.

turnover-icon2Turnover: Fifty-two percent of exiting employees say that their manager could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job. But only 51% of employees who left their job had a conversation about their engagement, development, or future during the three months leading up to their departure.

“Clearly,” the report summarizes, “if you want to radically transform your employee experience, you must first fix your manager experience." And there’s a generational impact to be aware of: Younger workers are, meanwhile, more likely to be influenced by a manager’s leadership style.

Millennials are now the largest demographic in the workforce. As a generation, they require more frequent, more direct, and more actionable manager feedback than any previous generation. They are also more likely to say that “quality of manager” is a top factor they consider when looking for a new job. In other words, they want from their managers the same kind of counsel and guidance that traditionally comes from mentors or leadership role employees.

According to Harvard Business Review research: “Twenty-first-century managers simply don’t (and can’t!) have all the right answers. To cope with this new reality, companies are moving away from traditional command-and-control practices and toward something very different: a model in which managers give support and guidance rather than instructions, and employees learn how to adapt to constantly changing environments in ways that unleash fresh energy, innovation, and commitment. The role of the manager, in short, is becoming that of a coach.”

Today’s world demands leaders who can set goals and hold people accountable, while also authentically caring for them by showing them true leadership and guidance. When done right, regardless of your current perception of manager performance, this sort of development can empower managers to build great employee experiences that drive engagement, increase productivity, and boost retention.

Even if your organization has a coaching mindset or model in place for your managers, it may be lacking effective modern leadership development of those coaching skills. Or it could be missing the level of customization and personalization that’s needed to fully guide and be part of the new world of the employee journey.

The key point to leave with right now is that managers are nothing less than the silver bullet for success in today’s shifting workplace landscape, and they can no longer manage effectively by using outdated management styles.