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The value of investing in your leaders and managers – and the impact this will have on your staff turnover and bottom line

Friday 6 July 2018

The value of investing in your leaders and managers – and the impact this will have on your staff turnover and bottom line

By Jane Fishwick, head of HE, access, business and professional

Why do many employers continually allow poor leadership and management of their most valuable – not to mention expensive – resource; their employees?

There are clear links between the loss of staff with the poor performance, or management style, of their line manager. Yet so often we don’t adequately support our business leaders to improve, or equip them with the right tools to be successful in the ever-changing and demanding world of business.

Yesterday’s successful leaders and managers won’t necessarily be successful today unless we invest in them and prepare them to deal with the new challenges faced when overseeing a diverse workforce. That’s because the needs of employees today – including those of us who supervise or guide them – are very different from 20, ten or even two years ago.

For example, over the last two years I have been managing a new team. What my staff required two years ago was guidance, knowledge and support as they settled into their roles, with clarification on policies and processes, coaching and mentoring being the biggest focus.

Having been afforded this time and support, they have become high-performing individuals who produce excellent work and get on with their job diligently and with minimal supervision. Feedback is exceptional, they receive a decent salary, good holidays, and enjoy stable employment.

So, on the face of it, everything’s perfect. Except it isn’t. It very rarely is.

Although they are happy and content in their jobs, line management of them needs to be different now. Lifting my head up and looking and listening to what is happening, and also having my management qualification to refer back to, I can make informed decisions and changes to improve their performance further, which will have a direct and positive impact.

If I get this right, chances are they will remain with the organisation, potentially saving on recruitment costs. But the greatest asset is the knowledge they have of our department – warts and all – which means they can drive quality improvements if managed correctly. Mentoring and coaching is still required to an extent, but they also need autonomy, trust, the freedom to be creative and innovate, and recognition through differentiation that they are performing well.

Of course, the reality in many industries is that management is a role that people often ‘fall into’, rather than something they actually plan or aspire to. In these situations new managers will often replicate what they have experienced from their line manager, simply because they do not know how to do anything differently. Theories are not known and reflection is not practiced; all essential elements of managing people and being equipped to make informed decisions.

We have the opportunity to drive and improve the quality of our leaders through the Operations/Departmental Manager Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship or degree programmes in business and management. These are designed by employers for employees in management and leadership roles. New and experienced managers have a real chance of improving the bottom line of their businesses – if we offer them the chance to lift their heads up and look at the whole picture. Doing what we have always done will keep us where we have always been.

So what’s stopping us addressing the obvious need to invest in our leaders and managers? Time? Cost? Confidence? All of these may perhaps be a reason. However, we have now been handed a fantastic opportunity to develop our staff through higher-level apprenticeships.

Large employers with an annual pay bill of over £3m can now fund this management training through the apprenticeship levy, while non-levy payers only pay up to 10 per cent towards it.

Apprenticeships and higher-level qualifications support real practical projects specifically designed to instigate improvements for our businesses; bringing on-the-job learning and reflection.

There’s never been a better opportunity to take your business to new heights by investing in your current, and future, leaders.

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