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  • Writer's picture2020 HR

People do not leave bad companies – they leave bad managers

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Kind of…… yes, people do leave bad managers but it isn’t the number one reason people leave a company. In companies who have a bad culture, strong or weak people managers make little difference. However, in companies with a positive culture, the strength of your people management skills really do have an impact.

I firmly believe that one of the biggest causes of workplace stress and low engagement is people in management positions who do not have strong people management skills.

We’ve all had that boss who avoids managing poor performance, handles a difficult conversation badly, fails to let you know how you are doing, doesn’t tell you or your team what is going on around the business (I could go on……) and the effects can be devastating.

If you don’t know what’s going on around the business, you can end up doing things that contradict what other areas of the business are doing or you get frustrated because you don’t understand why you are being asked to do something a particular way.

If you only get feedback on your performance when you make a mistake or get things wrong, you dread those words ‘can we have a catch-up’ or, even worse, the calendar appointment arriving in your inbox.

If you are having to pick up the slack from an under-performing team member, you could be over-worked and be frustrated that nothing is every addressed.

The impact is pretty obvious so why does this manifest itself so often?

The people in those manager roles don’t take on those roles to be bad at them and I don’t believe that is their fault.

Too many organisations promote someone who is good at their current job into a line management role without considering if they have the skills to carry out the role effectively.

This is then compounded by not being clear what is expected of them in this role.

And guess what else? We then fail to give them the skills to do the role effectively.

Finally, we don’t measure their performance in the people management aspect of their role and hold them to account for any under-performance.

I’ve said before that, in my view, most people want to do a good job in their roles so here’s my top tips for organisations avoiding getting into to the cycle of poor people managers undermining your positive culture:

  1. Appoint line managers based on their people management skills not their technical skills – some people are natural people managers, some can acquire the skills through coaching and development, some people are just not suited to being a people manager

  2. Be clear about what the line management role is – managing people is tough and it becomes the main part of the role rather than just an add-on to their existing role. Test a person’s appetite for the tough bits before appointing them

  3. Upskill in advance of placing people in a line management role – in smaller organisations, it can be difficult to find development opportunities for potential line managers. Simple things like getting them to lead team meetings can develop their people management skills

  4. Give new people managers the support while they are adjusting from being a team member to being a people manager – this can be via coaching, training or even formal qualifications

  5. Include measures surrounding people management in the assessment of their performance. For example; are they managing holiday appropriately, do they deal with sickness absences appropriately, are they carrying out performance reviews

  6. Where a people issue isn’t being addressed appropriately, hold them to account early on and explore what is preventing them from dealing with the issue

It isn’t rocket science yet many organisations are still suffering from pockets of poor people management and it will be impacting the overall performance and culture of the organisation.

2020 HR Consultancy can provide people management training for any organisation who wants to upskill potential line managers, have new people managers in roles or have established people managers who don’t have the right skills. If you have any people management issues, get in touch and see how I might be able to help.

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