A study came out recently which is significant because of the size of the sample and its topic: management. Ultimate Software surveyed more than 2,000 of its employees on the importance of manger relationships. As part of a boutique that does management and leadership development the findings were of great interest to us.
Fundamentally, they reinforce what we have known for some time. The landmark study on management was conducted by the Gallup organization when they interviewed over 80,000 managers (that’s right, 80,000) and reported the results in 1999 (Buckingham & Coffman). Here is what the two studies, separated by some eighteen years, have in common. The front-line manager is critically important to attracting and retaining talent and driving performance to the highest level. It is here where the day-to-day coaching and reinforcement occurs.
We often put it this way to clients and prospects. If you were to retain us to improve performance and the condition was that we could work with front line managers or their team members, but not both, which would we choose? To add a little drama let’s stipulate that our lives would depend on the outcome. Without hesitation, we would choose to work with the managers.
Yet, organizations continue to neglect manager development. The Ultimate Software study reports that 45% of their managers never received formal training in how to manage.
Often the practice of neglecting manager development results in a double loss. For example, when a high performing salesperson is promoted to a management position, but not provided with the skills nor tools to manage, the organization has lost both a skilled salesperson and suffers with a weak manager. We see it all of the time.
The lesson is clear. Management is too important to be left to on the job training.