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  • Writer's pictureArvind Verma


Marginal annual pay rises and token fruit bowls are no longer enough to expect total engagement...

The saying goes that employees don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad managers. So, how can companies ensure they have the right people, practices and culture in place to hang onto their talent and maximise growth?*

Modern business is rapidly evolving, as is the way we think about people management. Advances in digital technology and connectivity have changed the blueprint for success and structure forever. From small smart-ups to sprawling multinationals, businesses today are being forced to adapt their approach to meet the needs of a new generation – or risk losing their competitive edge.

A large part of this boils down to culture. Marginal annual pay rises and token fruit bowls are no longer enough to expect total engagement and loyalty from staff. People are now increasingly driven by the prospects of purpose, flexibility and autonomy, working in a way that affords greater balance and control in their day-to-day lives. A recent study by Robert Half found that one-third of jobseekers would pass up the perfect job if the corporate culture was a bad fit.

As champions of workplace culture, it’s down to managers to push key initiatives, secure ongoing support from the board and put employee wellbeing at the heart of office life. That takes continual effort and investment, which is something that far too many companies tend to skimp on. Yet even for smaller businesses with a modest budget, it needn’t break the bank to start building a positive working environment that everybody can thrive in.

Make it authentic

“Every business develops a culture, whether its deliberate or not,” says Stuart Branch, Group People Director at Weetabix. “It’s simply the collective view of ‘what it’s like to work here’. The longer a business operates, the more entrenched certain behaviours become. That’s why it’s so important to set out a clear vision and values that everybody in the workforce can get behind. Managers must be aligned with this vision if it is to stand any chance of success.

“The authenticity of leadership, work practices, empowerment, accountability, performance management and, of course, line management are all crucial. Line managers play an integral part in promoting an environment where people can make a difference and work to their full potential. We also know that if you want to attract the best possible talent and utilise their knowledge you need to ensure people feel valued and have a purpose in the workplace.

The very best organisations out there always look to remove barriers in the workplace so that people feel enabled, recognised and have access to every resource they need to do an excellent job. Ultimately, a company is only as good as the people within it. That’s why we make a point of regularly promoting initiatives on social health, flexibility in working practices and employee benefits, as well as encouraging self- development through our learning programmes.

*Tailor your approach*

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to great leadership; instead, there are many different ways to get the most out of a team, and designated managers must be open to them all if they are to find and utilise the elements of management most suited to their people.

“Managers must be responsive and flexible enough to be able to discard any behaviours that aren’t working – and find some new ones that do,” adds Ronald Meijers, Human Capital Partner at Deloitte. “Practising various roles and experimenting with different styles can be a useful exercise. The fact that you’re the manager of a team doesn’t necessarily mean you have to chair meetings all the time, for instance

“By putting themselves in contexts that are new, managers are better prepared to face unexpected challenges and make more informed decisions going forwards. Effective delegation is an important trait, of course; yet great managers are also prepared to get stuck in with day-to-day tasks so they can get to know the experience of their employees inside out.”

*Beware the pitfalls*

It’s no surprise that businesses with weak leadership at management level soon find themselves slipping into the danger zone of employee turnover. A recent survey of 1,500 office workers led by Udemy revealed that nearly half (47%) of employees say they’ve quit a job because of a bad manager. A further 60% think that their managers need more managerial training, a common gripe among employees across all industries.

_Whilst internal progression and development is a huge positive on the whole, it should be fostered carefully. The skillset required to be a good manager is entirely different to that of an individual role. All too often, employees who earn promotion to a management position aren’t given the right training or support. Just because somebody excels in a sales role, for example, doesn’t necessarily mean they will have the same success in getting the most out of other sales professionals._

Leadership skills should never be taken for granted, which is why additional training must be made available to those about to make the jump to a managerial role. Failing to support staff development often leads to poor performance for both the individual and the team they are heading up. Top employers know better than to run that risk.

Author - Daniel Jones

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