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Management training and employee retention: 6 ways to improve both


Have you considered the correlation between management training and employee retention?

There is a saying that employees don’t leave jobs or companies — they leave bosses. And while no one wants to work for a tyrant, most people aren’t inherently malicious.

Instead, everyday situations, like the way a manager reacts under pressure or how tactfully feedback is provided, have consequences. It can either chip away at morale and destroy productivity, or the manager can inspire the team to work harder and persevere.       

While leadership myths are pervasive, there are fundamentals to good management that can be learned through mentorship and training. With these simple strategies, business leaders can have a direct impact on overall employee job satisfaction and productivity, which should lead to lower turnover rates.

1. Prioritize mentorship

Mentorship and coaching is the most effective management training.

Find the managers who lead productive, satisfied teams with low turnover. Partner them with your future leaders, who perhaps have less experience but show raw talent and are eager to assume more responsibility.

Begin having the mentor progressively introduce new systems, processes and projects. For example, a supervisor might teach their protégé how to review and approve time cards.

On the first week, the manager shows how it’s done. The mentee handles the process under supervision for the second week and completely owns it on the third week.

Over time, the manager should also impart softer skills like talking someone through a performance issue.

2. Invest in new manager training

Companies can make the mistake of only training senior managers because these are the leaders with the greatest influence.

While their behavior can impact a broad range of employees, the lower level managers are likely working more intimately with the majority of your staff on a daily basis.

If a company promoted an exceptional individual contributor to a management position without offering training, they might be setting that person up to fail.

First-time supervisors may be vulnerable to making rookie mistakes when it comes to everyday scenarios, like motivating and coaching the team, providing constructive feedback or disciplining employees.

By putting as much effort into training young or inexperienced managers as you do your C-suite, you help improve performance and retention throughout the company, not just at the highest levels. You also build your bench of potential leaders.

3. Construct comprehensive succession plans

Historically, companies create succession plans only for their C-suite and maybe a few other key positions. However, if you drill down through all layers of the organization and plan for career development throughout the company, you can begin training younger managers for senior positions.

Your HR generalists and junior software developers don’t plan to remain in their entry-level positions forever. Identify potential managers early, and provide necessary learning opportunities and experiences for their professional growth.

Every person has strengths and weaknesses. Identify the areas in which they struggle, and offer educational opportunities to fill those skill gaps. When opportunities arise, they’ll be prepared to assume new responsibilities.

Plus, career development planning at every level of the organization helps younger, less experienced employees visualize how the company plans to contribute to their career. Knowing that you have plans for their growth gives employees a reason to stay.

4. Value every contribution

To improve retention, train your managers to be kind, constructive and sympathetic when counseling their staff members. This can be particularly hard when the manager is frustrated or frazzled or doesn’t personally care for the employee.

However hard, spending the extra effort to be sensitive lets workers know you care, especially when you’re discussing behaviors that need to change. Kindness also helps managers avoid allegations of favoritism — another retention killer.

If one staff member is clearly treated with more respect and civility than others, it’s a glaring sign of favoritism, which may drive employee dissatisfaction.

It’s important for managers to remember that not every employee is equally successful. Even your high-flyers can have a bad day, week or month. Every contribution should be valued.

5. Teach delegation

Managers are held accountable for the success of their teams. And the untrained manager may be inclined to maintain a tight grip on every project — fearing loss of control or falling behind.

Micromanagement remains a common management mistake. However, your managers can’t be effective, and employees can’t be happy, if micromanagement rules the roost.

Encourage your managers to think of delegation as a force multiplier that allows their team to get more done rather than losing control.

Controlling, perfectionist managers can stifle creativity at best and come across as dictators to employees at worst. It’s vital your managers make their team members feel valued and trusted to do their tasks well.

6. Teach communication skills

Communication is key to all employee relations. If a manager’s communications skills are flawed, then they’ll have a hard time leading a team, no matter how accomplished they are in other areas.

Good communication can be complex since it includes:

  • Explaining goals and objectives clearly and consistently
  • Offering feedback in a manner that improves performance
  • Being open to questions and concerns

Don’t let your management team underestimate the value of telling employees when they’ve done a good job. After all, who wants to work for someone who never seems to notice that they’ve worked hard on a project or made an effort to do exactly what was asked?

Find more ideas on how to motivate and inspire your employees. Download our complimentary e-book: How to develop a top-notch workforce that will accelerate your business.