Hickock Boardman Benefits

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Throw Your People Leaders a Lifeline

Increasingly, organizations and their top leaders are coming around to the recognition that they must employ managers who are strong people leaders. I direct your attention to any situation where there is frequent turnover. A key driver of that turnover is likely a supervisor or manager who fails to inspire and gain the respect of their people. I frequently hear criticism of individuals belonging to Generations Y and Z characterized as “entitled,” “lazy,” and in need of constant praise. I caution you to check those characterizations. Yes, the work environment has changed and your employees expect more – or a different experience than what was acceptable for Traditionalists or Boomers. With the current, very tight talent market and sheer numbers of Millennials and Gen Z entering the workforce, it is time to come to terms with the universal expectation that leaders do a better job caring for and growing their employees – it is time to be better people managers for today’s workforce. But what does that mean?

Having been fortunate enough to work for more than one manager in the strong leader category, I can confidently say it is a stark contrast from the experience of working for a manager who focuses on things like (them) being right all the time, having ultimate control of all aspects of the work environment, criticizing mundane details of how the work is completed, highlighting your mistakes and keeping what seems to be a running list of your failures, having no patience for or understanding of your life outside of work, and so on. When we have an opportunity to report to a leader who understands the value of cultivating a genuine and mutually beneficial work relationship based on trust and respect, it is clear that there is no better manager scenario. It is the key to employee engagement. It also becomes a prerequisite for any future employment opportunities.

This shift in the workforce has lead organizations and savvy organizational leaders to focus on providing new and emerging leaders (or those with deficiencies) access to leadership development resources and tools to help them grow and succeed. Part of my work coaching managers at all levels of organizations is helping them to define and practice their own personal leadership style. While I want them to make it their own personal style, I point them in the direction of traits of leadership that show up in research as keys to success. From the Gallup State of the American Workforce report , the following are identified as critical to employee engagement:

  • Knowing what is expected of them at work
  • Knowing that their opinions count
  • Having a manager who listens to them
  • Knowing that they have opportunities to learn and grow
  • Having someone at work who encourages their development
  • Having had a conversation about their (development) progress within the last six months 
  • Recognition and praise

It seems like a no-brainer to help supervisors and managers acquire and refresh key leadership skills and to provide a supportive environment with mentoring and coaching to help emerging leaders practice and learn as