The Manager Experience

Managers Make the Employee Experience so Train, Train and Train

The employee experience is the totality of what an employee experiences from the recruitment process through hiring, onboarding, engaging, job performance, developing and even exiting. It is a journey that is influenced by your company’s culture, relationships with co-workers, the job requirements, technology and level of engagement.

There is one factor that influences every aspect of the employee experience: quality of leadership. Gallup and other consulting and research groups have conducted numerous studies and surveys over the years, and the quality of an employee experience always points to a dependence on the quality of leadership. Statistic after statistic shows that managers have the most influence over the quality of each stage of the employee journey in any organization.

Are You Training Your Managers?

In fact, with the growing millennial workforce, the ability of leaders to engage employees has never been more important. Millennials are not willing to sit in a job doing the same thing day-in and day-out without opportunities to utilize their capabilities, plan their careers and do work that has meaning. They want to feel connected to the company mission and feel a kinship with the company’s values.

Younger employees want to work for engaging and approachable leaders who give them a voice. Frankly, it’s not easy being a leader. People depend on you every day to help them succeed. If you’re like many employers today, your organization invests resources in training employees to improve job performance.

The question is: Are you training your managers, or are you assuming they know how to lead because of the position each person holds?

Leading Self Not the Same as Leading Others

Many managers and supervisors are placed in leadership positions because they did a good job in a particular position. Think about this for a minute. Many people are promoted or hired into a leadership position because they were good at a job that was not a leadership position. They have proven they’re high performers and can lead their selves, but they haven’t proven they are leaders of others.

The gap is obvious. Succeeding as a manager or supervisor requires a whole new skill set. It’s not surprising that a variety of surveys and research projects have shown that 50-60 percent of managers fail within a couple of years. They are simply not equipped to lead other people, so they try to do their jobs by using the same skills that got them promoted, like sitting at a desk working on a project with a deadline or being a good team member.

They don’t know how to lead, and that means they don’t know how to engage others, delegate work, motivate staff, provide quality feedback, be an active listener and/or manage conflict. They also don’t know how to strengthen the organization’s culture through appropriate leadership behaviors, like coaching employees and making them authentic contributors to organizational success.

Taking Charge of Helping Others Succeed

Gallup refers to the “manager experience”, and it can be good or bad. From hiring to exiting, a manager has an experience. Putting someone into a leadership position without ongoing actionable leadership training is a frustrating experience for the person. It shouldn’t be surprising that a poor manager experience will lead to poor employee experiences, driving high turnover rates, lower productivity, low employee morale, higher rates of conflict and even unionization.

One of the top reasons people leave their jobs is because of their manager. It’s the manager experience influencing the employee experience.

You can promote or hire someone into a leadership position who has excellent hard skills, but the person still fails because critical leadership soft skills are under-developed. A manager’s success doesn’t depend on the ability to give orders as the person in charge. Leadership is about helping others succeed.

Helping others succeed requires soft skills like the ability to give quality feedback, to listen with purpose, to develop collaborative teams, to make people feel empowered, to have empathy and to make decisions and problem solve by working with others as a team member. The most effective leaders also have a high degree of emotional intelligence which means they understand how personal emotions affect other people.

Improving the Manager’s Experience Improves the Workforce

Managers need training just as much as their staff. The training should be continually offered too and not a one-and-done or random event. New hire and current managers need to fully understand their role and develop the people skills needed to lead others.

By offering manager training, you’re likely to see a significant improvement in productivity, employee engagement and job satisfaction among managers and their staff. Another plus of improving the manager experience is that the person learns the skills that contribute to keeping an organization union free – good communication, employee engagement and problem solving skills. Bottom line: manager and supervisor engagement is crucial to employee engagement.

Leading the Leaders to Training

Meeting the training and development needs of managers is as easy as training and developing staff. The content has differences because the goals are different, but the presentation is similar. For example, online interactive training is highly effective no matter who is doing the training. Everyone likes videos and eLearning programs, web-based presentations and 24/7 access to training.

Making it easy for your managers to develop leadership skills is critical. They are always busy people, often overloaded with work and frequently struggling to meet goals. A Better Leader leadership lessons can develop soft skills, like building employee morale, giving praise and recognition and motivating home and remote teams, to name a few.

Since the lessons are online, you can provide consistent training across the organization which cultivates the desired culture. To ensure managers are completing the courses, there is compliance reporting to keep the training moving forward. A Better Leader lessons have four focus areas which are Support, Motivate, Improve and Connect.

Leader Training is THE Way to Avoid Unionization

Another aspect of leadership training is developing specific skills that union proof an organization. These skills complement the leadership soft skills training, and they need regular reinforcement. Information specific to the correct and legal way to keep unions out is also included. Skills include maintaining up-to-date knowledge of legally permissible manager behaviors, responding to signs of unionization, answering employee questions about unions and so on. The last thing your organization needs is a union claiming a manager committed an unfair labor practice (ULP).

Labor law is in a constant state of flux, and that can be overwhelming unless managers are well-trained and information is readily available and current. UnionProof’s LaborLook is designed to keep information on labor topics, organizational policies and current issues in one place. It’s accessible 24/7, making the education of busy managers convenient.

Expecting people to retain all the information concerning labor law and unionization is unrealistic, and LaborLook is the ideal solution. Experts recommend leadership training for union avoidance because it’s the managers who know how to engage employees in an authentic manner to build and maintain a union proof culture.

Achieving Union Proof Certification is evidence a leader has a deep understanding of labor relations and employee engagement. Customized training is deliverable as video, web and eLearning, so the right format is available for your organization.

Staying Off the Union Path

Asking managers to lead without training is a path to labor problems. The manager experience is a prime determinant of the employee experience, and the employee experience is the top determinant of whether your organization can prevent unionization. Investing resources in manager training is a good business decision because the returns will far exceed the investment. 

About the author

Walter Orechwa

Walter is Projections’ CEO and the founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.