Poor People Management is the first blog of our series – ‘Employee Retention in the Gulf’. In my latest Introduction blog I outlined three areas where the serious ‘headache’ of employee retention in the ‘war for talent’ would be won and lost. Today, I would like to focus on the ‘The Hidden Cost of Poor People Management’. Most of us have come across one dimensional fear based management. These are autocratic managers often lacking in self-confidence who rely on using fear to manage people. Sometimes it is a because of lack of self-awareness, sometimes it is simply a lack of knowledge, skills or attitude in managing people.
Recruitment and L&D in any ‘war for talent’ will be tasked with finding talent, inducting them and training them to cope with the increasingly competitive and unpredictable labour market. L&D and HR will be held accountable when people don’t live up to expectations or simply leave for a ‘greener’ opportunity. Recruitment and L&D then spin their wheels in an ever diminishing pool of talent to meet the needs of the business.
One reason for this is simply ‘poor people management.’ What I would like to focus on here are those managers who achieve KPIs but cause detrimental damage to the business by pushing their team out the door instead of pushing them forward. The cost to the business varies from 1.5x to 3x of salary for the full cost of an employee.
With high push factors and low pull factors these managers escape the spotlight simply because there is nowhere else to go. Very often these managers are forgiven by more senior managers ‘we know he is not the easiest to get on with but he hits his targets’ is often said. When both push and pull factors are high these teams fall apart as team members eventually leave. The fluidity of the market in the UAE at the moment means that pull factors are increasing and will continue to do so at least until after 2020. Increasing pull factors can be seen in the UAE now with employers having to constantly increase their offers to entice talent onto their books.
Poor management comes in many guises.
1. Lack of self-awareness by the ‘manager’ of their default management style. A total blind spot of the negative impact it has on people.
2. Lack of self-confidence in the manager manifesting itself day to day with excessive control over all team activities which in turn results in lower cooperation and lower innovation.
3. Lack of interest (founded on a lack of skills) in team talent development because by doing so fosters challenges to the status quo which in turns challenges the authority of the low confidence manager.
4. Lack of trust in themselves or their team to understand the ‘how’ behind high performance and not just the ‘what’ in performance is achieved. Having a fear of diversity instead of embracing it reduces this manager to a one dimensional style of management.
5. Lack of understanding how they or their team fit into the organisation. The sudden realisation the maybe the well hidden secret described above is not so well hidden anymore further exasperates this situation as they realise they are going no further in the organisation.
These five areas have been distinguished after several years of experience working and meeting with several managers in all types of organisations globally. It is only when the pull factors begin to take their team away that momentum builds in organisations to work with these kinds of managers.
The cost of doing nothing and they stay is too high. Training alone will not work. Hard choices will have to be made by all parties otherwise the drain away from managers like these will begin.
So what can be done about it?
1. Analyse your current situation – Why are people leaving? What do staff think about their managers?
2. Define what it takes to be an effective manager in your organisation, what skills and attributes are you looking for. Who are your best managers, and more importantly why are they your best managers, what do they do that others don’t?
3. Get your manager recruitment, selection and promotion processes right. Avoid the Peter Principle. Your best sales person rarely makes the best Sales Manager.
4. Support newly appointed managers, make sure expectations are clear and appoint internal mentors.
5. Develop a tailored management development programme for your organisation. Make sure the programme is clearly linked to the goals of the organisations, and is designed to help managers become more effective in their role.
6. Benchmark and measure progress. Without good data it will be impossible to know if you are making progress. Staff engagement surveys, 360 assessments, exit interviews all have a role to play.
7. Never give up. Focus on continuous improvement.