Like All Employees, Managers Need Feedback, Development

manager development feedbackWe all know the saying that people join companies and leave managers. And this makes sense. The interview process – at least if you are the leading candidate – is like those first weeks of dating a new person. Both people are on their best behavior, promises are made, neither party can do any wrong, and you can hear the wedding bells and pitter-patter of little feet that are sure to come in your happy life together. And then someone starts leaving their socks on the bathroom floor.

What happens next determines the fate of the relationship – in manager/employee relationships as in dating. People with different perspectives need to work together to bridge differences.  And both parties must be engaged in order for the relationship to prosper.

Manager and Employee Engagement

Brandon Hall Group’s Employee Engagement study found that nearly three-quarters of organizations that increased manager engagement the past year also saw employee engagement increase over the same time. In organizations where manager engagement decreased, only 4% saw an increase in employee engagement. And importantly, those organizations increasing manager engagement were more than twice as likely to report increased organizational revenue.

Which is all well and good, but what do we do to improve manager, and therefore employee, engagement? Like the socks on the floor, ignoring the problem will only make it worse, until someone gives up on the relationship. It’s called the code of silence – managers who are newly promoted are afraid to ask for help because they figure, “I got promoted, they must think I know what I’m doing, so I better not let on.” And organizations tend to cross their fingers and hope that someone makes the transition to being a people manager.

There’s a Better Way

It’s easy to forget that managers are employees too, and like all employees, they crave development, feedback, and visibility into how their actions impact the organization and its performance. We need to offer managers – particularly newly promoted managers – the same service we expect them to provide for their employees. Organizations responding to Brandon Hall Group’s 2015 Leadership Development study identified the top three activities to improve performance and engagement. They can serve as a guideline for how organizations should be developing managers

  • Increase alignment between performance goals and business goals
  • Focus on coaching for development
  • Improve managers’ skills in giving feedback

The research also found that 42% of organizations identified “coaching in the moment” as a leadership skill gap – the most significant leadership skill gap cited. By offering opportunities to learn and grow on an ongoing basis – for managers and employees – the socks on the floor don’t need to lead to a final confrontation. Managers also need tools to help them in this process, because coaching doesn’t always come instinctively.

But only 34% of respondents indicate that they taking advantage of tools that offer coaching tips as part of their performance management technology. Through both increased training and increased access to actionable coaching and feedback insights as part of technology solutions, organizations can move the dial on manager engagement to drive true business performance.

Mollie Lombardi, VP and Principal Analyst,
Workforce Management, Brandon Hall Group

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Mollie Lombardi



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Mollie Lombardi