As society scales the mountains of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, more and more employees find themselves moving from emphasizing basic physiological needs when building a career to areas such as belonging, esteem and self-actualization. This has led to a trend shift in what employees look for in an employer. It has also led employers to consider employee care and development, as well as other types of incentives to entice and retain high quality employees.
According to a study conducted by Gallup, when comparing companies with high engagement scores to ones with low engagement score, the first group experienced 41% lower absenteeism rates, 24% lower turnover rates in high-turnover organizations (40% higher turnover rate), 59% lower turnover rates in low-turnover organizations (40% lower turnover rate), 70% fewer employee safety incidents, 17% higher productivity rates, 20% higher sales, and 21% higher profitability, among other metrics.
The importance of great hiring, employee development and management has skyrocketed in the past decades due in part to the shift towards a knowledge economy, increasing market competition and technological disruption. This segment will dive into a few areas that drive management success in the 21st century.
Good hiring can often start weeks to months before a new employee joins the organization. It often involves determining what skills the organization needs (hard & soft skills) to achieve its goals, characteristics the individual should have that fits with the organization’s culture, experience associated with the job requirement and their potential to achieve organization’s expectations (E.g. career progression, learning, etc) within expected time frames. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the hiring package offered to candidates are competitive and attractive in order to win over top talent.
It can be challenging for an organization to find an employee that fits all the checkboxes, therefore it is important to determine the major areas that are a make it or break it for the organization and what would be considered plans B and C in case plan A is not possible to achieve.
Employee management is often considered a key area that managers are expected to emphasize. In fact, some learning and development departments expect their managers to spend 36% of their time coaching their subordinates, yet managers find themselves spending only 9% of their time in this area (Gartner).
Due to resource scarcity, it is unlikely that most organizations will be able to achieve the learning and development’s departmental goals for a manager, however, with technological advances, better management knowledge and a higher emphasis in the right areas, it is possible to ensure that the available time spent in this area is repurposed in a way that bring more values to the employee and the organization.
Purposefulness – managers will often carry and share with their subordinates a greater sense of purpose. Their ability to create purposefulness can often resonate with others in the organization, helping to drive increased organizational value and employee satisfaction. For example, when a manager requests for a subordinate to complete a task, it can be helpful to give a quick explanation as to why accomplishing this task will bring value to the organization.
Humbleness – managers will tackle organizational challenges in a way that allows employees to bring their very best. They leave their bragging “rights” out of the windows unless it involves empowering and praising others. Humble managers will also emphasize personal continuous development as a manager regardless of the conditions or challenges at hand.
Consistent Fairness – managers looks to create an environment where decisions and actions towards employees, customers, suppliers and superiors are consistently fair. It often comes with clear processes and communications to create rich feedback loops.
Emotional Intelligence – managers with emotional intelligence will often create a stronger locus of control over their emotions and will consider the emotion of other involved parties as part of their actions and decision making. This self-awareness can often drive more empathic behavior and motivate relevant parties to achieve organizational objectives. In 2019, Forbes reported that 96% of employees agree that when management shows signs of empathy, it leads to increased employee retention.
Lead – organizations will often find themselves in an inflection point where a decision needs to be made with limited available information and unclear paths. A good manager is able to drive the best out of the team to gain key information to drive the decision. The manager is then able to lead their team to accomplish the targeted objective, helping to motivate and increase the organization’s success rate despite internal and external challenges.
Delegation – time is regularly considered one of the scarcest resources to not only managers, but people in general. To ensure that their time bring the highest return on investment (ROI), managers are often tasked with delegating, guiding and trusting their subordinates to accomplish an organization’s objectives.
There are only three things that are inevitable to an organization: death, taxes and turnover. Knowing that turnover is bound to happen, it is essential to understand factors that may cause the number to fluctuate and how one can mitigate such risks. Besides the clear negative effects of high turnover such as talent loss and increased expenditure on hiring, training, and development, high turnover also impacts culture and team morale which may impede the company from attracting top talent (Gallup).
Personalized Career Roadmap – When employees believe that their employer cares for their success and career growth, they tend to be more engaged and productive. Organizations need to make sure that employees are given an opportunity to see the career roadmaps that are available to them and what the implications are. Managers have the power to support a personalized career roadmap, and when a manager is shown to care, employees tend to be more engaged and have a lower turnover. In 2019, Forbes reported the findings of a study which concluded that 89% of Human Resources leaders believe that continuous peer feedback and check-ins are important drivers for success. Further, the report stresses that such practices should tie in and serve to emphasise the company’s core values and mission.
Promotion pipeline – provides a clear view of who, what, why and when to promote internally or hire externally to ensure that organizational goals are not disrupted. To optimize growth, limit disruption and provide employees with incentives to continue to bring their best, organizations should always have a promotion pipeline. It provides the tools for the organization and its employees to prepare for the inevitable need to promote and handle turnovers.
Traditionally, technical employees who wanted to climb the hierarchical ladders were required to move towards a managerial role, however, in today’s knowledge-based economy, more flexibility and opportunity are given towards creating a technical career roadmap. It is important to consider the profile of your workforce when constructing a promotion pipeline, seeing what other companies are doing, and specially, asking for employee feedback when developing such plan.
Every rule, however, has an exception and to some employees, a fulfilling, yet challenging career may be more enticing than climbing the promotional ladder. To some, being able to align their personal life meaning with their work and schedule through flexible hours and work structures can be more beneficial to both parties.
Whether through hiring, employee management or development, the management role has shown time and time again how impactful they are to individual and organizational success. In the 21st century, great managers should strive to have and hone their purposefulness, humbleness, fairness, emotional intelligence, leadership and ability to delegate. If a department seems to consistently underperform, it may be worth to re-assess all aspects of it, including how managers take ownership of the success of their subordinates. When managers are proactive in their employee care and development approach, productive employees thrive, helping the organization be the very best it can be.