In recent years, the relationship between the employer and the employee has shifted, and the working manager role has shifted too. Gone are the days of employees remaining at one company for their entire career. Instead, employees are seeking a workplace that suits their goals and needs. In response, companies who want to retain employees are focusing on their corporate culture. That change has long since happened, and it’s time to redefine our management structure to better reflect today’s reality.
For many years, companies have taken their top performers and moved them into working manager roles. Under this model, managers continued their previous roles and responsibilities but shifted some of their time to helping others when they needed it. Now, however, we are in a world where corporate culture reigns, and managers are the biggest influence on the day-to-day experience of employees. They are responsible for much of the implementation of policy and are the first line of communication for employee needs. When managers put their focus on meeting these needs, they can’t continue to effectively perform the work they did before becoming a manager. The working manager role cannot exist as it has in the past.
We like to visualize corporate culture as a pyramid. Companies must provide employees with their foundational needs. If those foundational needs aren’t met, employees won’t stay at a job, no matter how great the company is at the upper layers of the pyramid.
- Human resources – Companies need to provide a safe work environment, free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. If they can’t meet these foundational needs, they will continue to struggle with recruitment and retention.
- Compensation and benefits – After safety in the workplace, the next most important factor for workers is compensation. Great communication means nothing if employees are struggling to make ends meet or could make significantly more money elsewhere.
- Communication – Communication is so much more than an employee newsletter; it is conversation and feedback with employees, including goal setting, feedback loops, and evaluations. This is where the employee and their voice becomes a part of the ecosystem of the company.
The idea of a manager dedicated solely to managerial responsibilities sounds great to many companies, but they question how to pay for a position solely dedicated to managing. The reality is that there is a cost to not focusing on culture and communication — the cost of turnover and losing good employees over these issues.
Exit interviews show a trend of employees leaving companies due to poor communication, lack of reviews and goal setting, and all the other things that a manager should be working on but can’t when they are still handling other tasks. This costs the company, as they have to continually recruit, interview, hire, and train new employees. Managers who focus on management tasks improve retention and reduce turnover. This alone makes up for the cost of the management position, and it’s time for companies to realize the working manager position no longer serves the manager, the employees, or the company.
If you need help reimagining your people strategy to move away from working managers, reach out to the WhyHR team to start a conversation today.