Bad bosses take the blame for a lot of what goes wrong in the workplace. Low engagement rates, high turnover, employee dissatisfaction and even poor employer branding will often get placed squarely on the shoulders of supervisors. A constant passing of the buck, and probably some not so fair statistics have led to the idea that a bad boss epidemic is at the core of business issues. But are the bosses really all to blame? Are they really the cause of all of these issues?
People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.
You may have heard the saying, “leaders aren’t born, they’re made” and this is true, especially in the workplace. Many individuals have natural leading abilities, but when it comes to monitoring a team or a full department, not everyone is prepared to take on such a responsibility. And, as upper management in a company moves employees into leadership positions, it is their duty to ensure that they are ready for the tasks at hand.
To help with leadership you must understand the following:
- Leaders need training too. Everyone has room to grow, and as the driving force behind your employees, leaders need to know how to manage, motivate, and engage with their staff to keep everyone on task and working towards the right goals.
- Ensure that the leader of your choice is up for the responsibility. Not everyone is ready to take this next step in their career, and some may not even want it at all. Ask about their own preferences. And, most importantly, make sure they are equipped to get the job done.
- Make sure your leaders have the right tools. Just like a your other employees, leaders and management personnel need the right tools in order to perform their best. Are they able to do their job in the most efficient way? If the answer is no, then talk with the leaders within your company. What do they need to help them and the teams succeed?
Now, let’s dig a little deeper into each of these categories:
Leaders Need Formal Leadership Training
Too many leaders are placed in leadership positions without the proper formal training. If leading a team of people were simple, we wouldn’t currently be sitting at a 13% worldwide employee engagement rate.
In fact, one study revealed as much as 80% of managers surveyed said their company expects them to lead without formal training.
This lack of training is most commonly found in smaller organizations and in internal promotions. Simply because someone has been with a company or in a specific industry for a while, does not mean they have the skills necessary to successfully lead.
So, managers who aren’t exactly doing a bang up job might not have even been given the chance to succeed. They need formal training resources to not only learn how to do their own job, but to also facilitate those under them.
Not providing this necessary training is only setting your teams and your business up for failure. Without this, things like employee engagement and productivity take a nosedive and employee retention slowly goes out the door. In fact, roughly 42% of employees have left their job simply because of a bad boss.
This is because teams need a leader to push them in the right direction and keep them on the right path while also being supportive and respectful. However, if a leader is unable to do this, employees can lose that sense of communication, drive, and more, causing them to seek employment elsewhere.
A leader's job is not to do the work for others, it's to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.
- Simon Sinek
Many organizations may be thinking that additional training is unnecessary and is a waste of both time and money. However, with employee dissatisfaction sitting close to a staggering 52.3% and rising, and employee turnover growing, if you aren’t training, you’re losing - big time.
How Do I Identify Leaders in my Company?
- Watch for leadership opportunities on projects or smaller tasks.
- Identify those who lead both in positive and negative circumstances.
- Ask the employee and their colleagues about their leadership capabilities.
- Discover whether they want to learn more about leadership with your company.
- Offer them training and regular education on becoming a leader over a period of time.
Not Everyone Wants to Be a Leader
Put very simply, we have to stop promoting the wrong people. Did you know that just 34% of Americans aspire to have leadership positions, and a mere 7% have their eyes set on the C-suite?
Since your succession planning and performance management should be intertwined anyhow, make leadership roles and promotions part of that dialogue.
If only 1/3 of your workforce has the passion to do what their boss does, you might want to figure out which third that is, and work with them.
So, instead of promoting the wrong people to leadership roles, identify those who have a passion for leadership, and facilitate those career advancement opportunities with them.
In addition, once you know who these individuals are, start preparing them for taking on new leadership roles. This could be as simple as giving them the opportunity to lead a team project or present a topic to the team. Be careful not to push those who would prefer to remain skilled contributors. Desire doesn’t equal competence and competence is often confused with a desire to lead.
Being a good listener is absolutely critical to being a good leader; you have to listen to the people who are on the front line.
The sooner you start nurturing their desire for leadership, the easier the transition and training will be for them in the future. And, providing the outlook into what they can expect helps you to weed out those who may not quite be fit for the position while also showing employees that you care about their career development and progress within the company. The truth is, providing opportunities for employees to use their skills and abilities is one of the top three reasons for job satisfaction - creating an easy way for you to increase retention
How Can I Tell if My HIPO Employee Doesn’t Want to Lead?
- If they’re happy to share their knowledge but demure when a team leadership role appears, they may like where they are.
- Assess their performance numbers during times where they are acting in a leadership capacity. Does their performance suffer?
- Offer them a trial period managing a project or team with a specific deadline. Meet with them afterward to discover what they like and don’t like about leading their coworkers.
- Peruse their performance feedback to get a sense of any issues that might arise with new leadership duties.
Share on LinkedIn: Instead of promoting the wrong people to leadership roles, identify those who have a passion for leadership, and facilitate those career advancement opportunities with them.
Performance Skills Aren’t the Same as Leadership Skills
Executives will often turn top performers into leaders in the hopes that they will produce more top performers. The problem with this archaic corporate notion is performance skills don’t necessarily equate to leadership skills.
The same qualities that make a great salesperson are not what we should be basing leadership role assessments off of. Remember there are plenty of other ways to recognize and foster a consistently great performer.
For example, give top performing employees more important tasks others may be struggling to complete. Have them train others in addition to their everyday duties, so they can help be a role model to new and even current employees.
Both of these are great ways to build off of an employee’s skills. This also will boost the performance and productivity of your other employees.
Management is often just the next rung on the ladder, but the skills needed to succeed at management are very different from the ones that got them this far. As a result, you often see people who are brilliant and talented independent contributors flounder when it comes time to manage others.
- Allison Green, Author of Ask a Manager
Leaders Need Tools to Succeed
Many of the leadership issues we have all heard are also some of the leading reasons why employees voluntarily leave a job. Ironically, they are also issues that could be easily fixed with the right performance management and communication tools. Let’s start with one, very common example; employees will very often complain about and quit over a lack of recognition from their boss. Additionally, 70% of employees say motivation and morale would improve “massively” with managers saying thank you more, proving that it really doesn’t take much. Adding recognition and even rewards to your leadership training initiatives costs little to nothing to implement and could make your leaders even more successful in the long run.
To support these recognition efforts and so much more, transparent performance management tools let employees update every task, issue and success they have on a daily basis. These real-time alerts are then sent to leaders so they can easily dole out the proper recognition in a timely manner. No manager can be everywhere with an ear and an eye on everything. Beyond that, some employees won’t be vocal about their successes or their need for recognition, then the silent but great, fall through the cracks and become disengaged.
Transparent performance management tools make employee recognition and rewards the easiest and most impactful thing a manager can do all day.
Your managers want to be great, they want to engage their employees and make them feel valued. That being said, they need the tools, training, resources and support to do all of that successfully.
Andre is the CEO and co-founder of ClearCompany. Prior to ClearCompany, Andre was Global Managing Director at Thomson Reuters, where he ran a 1Bn global business across 90 countries. Prior to Thomson Reuters, Andre was responsible for product development and operations at CCBN, a company he helped grow from a small start-up to number 36 on the INC 500.