Every year, South African companies spend millions on leadership development for top executives, yet they neglect to consider that far more value can be achieved if they invested lower down the ladder.
According to Jenny Boxall, who convenes The New Manager Programme at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB), “the importance of management training for frontline managers is poorly misunderstood and it is costing many companies, and government departments, dearly.”
Most new managers are in need of a helping hand. They tend to be overwhelmed with their new responsibilities. They have been promoted to their new role because they were good at a technical skill but that this does not equip them to manage others.
As the country gears up to capitalise on Ramaphosa’s promised new dawn, it is a good time to turn attention to its managers; especially since Generic Management has been identified as a critical and scarce skill by a number of our country’s SETAs.
Investing in frontline managers will bring at least five critical benefits to organisations:
1. Good managers know how to build effective teams
A Gallup poll surveying over one million Americans found that the biggest reason why people leave their jobs is due to a bad boss or direct supervisor. “People leave managers, not companies…In the end, turnover is mostly a manager issue,” Gallup stated.
2. Efficient managers produce better outcomes
The Gallup poll also revealed that well-managed work groups were about 50 percent more productive and 44 percent more profitable than poorly managed groups. Furthermore, a recent report by consulting firm McKinsey on 14,000 companies in over 30 countries, showed that companies with good managers also grow more than badly managed companies. In this way, good managers impact directly on the bottom line of companies and organisations.
3. Great managers have happier employees
An employee's relationship with his or her direct manager is the single most important factor in employee engagement, which in turn impacts whether an employee is engaged, happy, and productive. Valued and engaged employees are more likely to work harder, not call in sick and commit to work deadlines. When you have a manager who cares about your happiness and your success, your career and your life, you end up with a better job, and it’s hard to imagine working anywhere else.
4. Good managers know how to communicate to solve problems
According to Boxall, effective communication is often at the root of many managerial responsibilities. Frontline managers are responsible for addressing project hold-ups, dealing with executives, motivating overwhelmed employees, sorting out backlogs or getting to the root of technical faults, faulty invoices or equipment failure that might be holding up a project. Knowing how to effectively communicate across all levels can avoid big conflict in a company and damaged relationships.
5. Great managers craft jobs for enjoyment
Great managers customise experiences for their people and enable them to focus on work they enjoy. They pay attention to their strengths and carve a path for career development that accommodates personal priorities. This effectively translates into increased productivity and lower absenteeism and turnover rates.
Ultimately, investing in new managers makes sense, because they are also your leaders of tomorrow.