More than 80 per cent of companies admit that they tolerate mediocre managers, according to a survey by the research firm Visual Capitalist. And 73 per cent of workers spend a significant part of their time dealing with problems caused by ineffective managers, the survey shows.
Why do managers become mediocre? Often, they start out well-motivated, but unclear expectations from leadership leaves them uncertain about how to perform well. Companies often refuse to spend money on training, and so they struggle to achieve goals with a growing sense of failure.
This is the very time in which the demands made on managers have risen exponentially; leaders must demonstrate agility and resilience as never before.
Nonetheless, even good managers are routinely asked to spend 40 to 80 per cent of their time performing activities that add little value, the survey shows.
“Moreover, many leaders are ‘ineffective’ at crucial people management skills,” adds Nastasia Michael, a lecturer in Human Resources at the CTL Eurocollege in Limassol.
Writing in a paper on “The Impact of Development Skills for Effective Business Leadership,” Michael’s research shows that “53 per cent of senior leaders’ skills were ineffective” and 44 per cent of the senior leaders’ people management skills were ineffective.”
So many leaders lack these kinds of skills, yet Michaels notes that, today, soft skills take a priority.
“The ability to engage with teams, to understand how to motivate workers, to get everyone on the same page – these skills are far more important today for a manager than technical skills,” Michaels told the Cyprus Mail in an interview.
Senior leaders must learn bot build teams, and to take transform the teams into successful units – this means understanding how to manage personal relationships, Michaels adds. They must inspire people to do their best work, and to go beyond that, she adds.
Creating an empowering environment is critical, Visual Capitalist notes. It is, however, surprising that relatively few leaders know how to do this. In the survey, two-thirds of leaders responded that they create empowering environments; yet only one-third of the workers surveyed agreed.
“There is a vast need for coaching, to train leaders in worker engagement,” Michaels comments. “Mediocre managers have the power to destroy employee engagement entirely, yet, with training, it is perfectly possible to make a manager understand the human side of the process and to make him/her more adept in it.”
To achieve this kind of self-development, companies must invest in their managers, to help them become effective again. More than half of the companies surveyed are at least beginning to implement this kind of programme.
“What is needed are managers who are calm under pressure, who invest time in talking to their staff, who get to know them as individuals and discuss their career development and family needs. Managers like these are likely to benefit from higher levels of employee engagement and lower levels of stress and absence,” Michaels says.
Of course, those are just a few examples of the soft skills and positive behaviours managers need to create an empowering environment. It is this kind of ability that is identified by employees as encouraging them to go the extra mile at work, to improve productivity while, at the same time, supporting employee wellbeing.