Closing the leadership gap

It’s widely understood that people don’t quit their jobs; they quit their managers. In fact, 85 per cent of employees leave their job due to their relationship with their manager. New research found that the average an employee becomes a manager is 31. They also found that the average age an employee receives their first management training is 42. That’s a problem…

This is all part of the recession-hangover. Ten years ago when the economy took a nosedive, one of the first things to get cut from budgets was training and development. And only recently has learning made a comeback.

Top of mind for nearly 90 per cent of CEOs and business owners is talent-retention. They have learned how expensive it is to replace an employee. The toll it takes on the entire workforce costs a lot more than equipping their managers with proper training.

And this goes beyond company picnics, team outings to escape rooms, practicing trust-falls, and experimenting with agile-scrums. We’re talking about equipping employees with how to manage people to perform.

We have a client with a not-so unique issue. They are a third generation family-owned business in the manufacturing sector. 65 per cent of their workforce is over the age of 50, while 25 per cent of the workforce is under 30. The fear is that those 50+ year old employees will retire and there will be no one to take their place because the latest trend has most employees exiting the business after only a few years. They have a leadership gap.

The company experienced a lot of layoffs during the recession. They are in a small town, and ten years later that town hasn’t fully recovered yet. Despite being the largest employer in the area, parents discourage their graduating children from going into manufacturing based on their experiences a decade ago. That sentiment does not appear to be unique to this company or this town when it comes to the manufacturing arena.

The life-blood of the workforce is factory workers. Traditionally, after a few years working in the factory an employee had two possible paths within the company. They could stay at the plant and become a craftsman, go into management, engineering, quality control, skilled labor, etc. Or they could enter the business office via a customer service role and work their way up through sales, marketing, finance, etc. All education, training, certifications, and health benefits are paid for by the company.

That structure is what built the company. Their reputation among customers and vendors is that they deliver a high quality product and they are regarded as being efficient and easy to do business with. Their financials are strong, too.

What’s the problem? And more importantly, how do we fix it?

The reality is what got them here, won’t get them there. Hiring best-fit candidates and retaining top talent are symbiotic and it all comes down to how they are managing their workforce.

Managing people to perform means giving them the tools and perspectives they need to develop increased awareness and a thorough understanding of what drives their day-to-day management behaviors. If you are aware of what drives behavior, you can predict performance.

In addition to securing a firm grasp of their own management styles, they utilize scientifically-validated workforce analytics to help them gain insights into how each team member communicates, delegates, solves problems, makes decisions, responds to pressure, adapts to change, takes action and ownership, listens and influences, and takes risks.

From there, they can focus on executing succession planning to secure the next generation of leadership from within the organization. But you can’t achieve that if your top employees keep leaving for greener pastures.

The grass is greener where you water it…