Learning & Development, Talent

Organizations Are Failing Their Leadership Teams

Your employees are demanding effective leaders. Are you able to provide this for them? If not, you’ll lose top talent to employers that do—and ultimately, your bottom line will be negatively impacted, as well.


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Ineffective leadership is a common problem for employers that struggle to retain talent. According to recent research released by 15Five, 20% of employees who are not confident in their manager’s ability to lead plan to leave their jobs in the next 6 months. Furthermore, that attrition number drops to 5% for employees who are “somewhat confident” and only 3% for those who are “extremely confident” in their managers.

Managers Aren’t to Blame—the Company Is

If you think your managers are to blame for the lack of retention, think again. 15Five’s research uncovered that leaders are responsible for managing too many workers. The ideal manager-to-employee ratio is 1:10, but 15Five revealed that 33% of managers manage more than 10 employees, which means a third of managers could be in over their heads.

Manager burnout is having a negative impact on direct reports as a result. According to 48% of respondents, they believe they could do their job better than their manager, and 32% would be relieved to hear that their manager was leaving the company.

On the flip side, managers who reported leaving their job because they were unable to manage their direct reports did so because they felt unsupported by the company’s leadership. 15Five says, “Their organizations failed both them and their direct reports by not supplying the training and resources necessary to manage effectively.”

15Five explains that a lack of managerial training could negatively impact the company’s workforce. One area in particular is employee wellness; 14% of managers have had no training in this area, and only 43% have received “some” training. However, managers see the importance of wellness and its ties to job performance, as 94% agree that their direct reports’ emotional well-being is as important as job performance.

While managers recognize the importance of employee wellness, only 41% of managers actually ask about their direct reports’ emotional wellness in one-on-one meetings. For those managers who said they always ask questions about their direct reports’ emotional wellness, 63% received extensive training. This goes to show you that training your managers can help them understand their direct reports more and provide the guidance these workers need.

Managers Want More Leadership Training

When managers receive the training they need, they set themselves, and their direct reports, up for success, and managers know this! According to 15Five, 79% of managers surveyed want more managerial and leadership training. Where can you begin training your management teams?

15Five offers a few examples, and it starts with your managers’ one-on-ones with their direct reports:

  • Hold 30-minute highly substantive, highly engaging meetings with direct reports to establish a regular cadence.
  • Begin each meeting by getting a pulse on how things are going for the employee, and share how things are going for you, as well.
  • Encourage two-way conversations.
  • Create an agenda, and stick to it!
  • Come to the meeting with talking points based on the previous week’s goals, priorities, and objectives.
  • End each meeting with actionable takeaways that can be used as objectives in the following meeting.

“Some managers need help fostering development in “hard” skills, while others need help with their “soft” skills—what we call primary skills. We’ll see training in these primary management skills becoming indispensable for business growth, since they uniquely meet the needs of newer generations of employees to be mentored instead of just managed,” says Shane Metcalf, Chief Culture Officer and co-founder of 15Five—in an e-mail to HR Daily Advisor. “The misconception is that an effective manager cannot hit key objectives, while simultaneously caring about their people. But setting clear expectations and holding people accountable is as indicative of a great manager as one who fosters psychological safety on the team—and in fact, those skills actually make people feel safer because they then have clear criteria for what great performance looks like.”

What best practices have worked for your leadership development programs? Leave them in the comments section below. And to learn more about 15Five and its leadership offerings, click here.