According to an October 2019 manager retention survey by learning management system TalentLMS, 46 percent of managers are thinking about leaving their company in the next year. If your managers fall in this group and are considering an exit, this could put your business at risk.
TalentLMS surveyed 500 managers, each with a maximum of 10 years of experience. The survey found that the majority of respondents (7 in 10) feel undervalued, underpaid and not heard.
However, 61 percent of managers noted the number one reason they stay is that they work well with the people they manage. Other top reasons for staying were having freedom and authority to make decisions and ideal work-life balance.
Manager Retention Vital to Your Business
"Success is not achievable without a good management team," says Lisa Tadewaldt, owner of tree service company Urban Forest Pro.
"If you're a small business and you lose a good manager in a tight job market, you run the risk of your business failing altogether. It's far easier to keep happy managers on your payroll than to replace them," she says.
"Anyone who runs a business can tell you that an organization without good managers simply can't function," says Francisco Salgado, managing director of Forex Academy, a company that offers virtual education tutorials regarding trading. "Managers are the primary motivators of the teams they lead and have a direct effect on the productivity of the workforce."
Managers drive the culture of your company, adds Summer Crenshaw, COO of tilr, a company offering automated hiring solutions.
"It's immensely important to ensure manager retention," she says. "Turnover has a deep effect on any organization, including financially. Replacing a manager is costly—averaging at least 20 percent of the person's annual salary, and those aren't the only costs. The dynamics of the organization can also drastically change with turnover, which could have effects on client relationships and community relations."
Steps to Ensuring Manager Retention
Considering how vital it is to retain good managers, it can pay to take a multi-pronged approach to manager retention. The following ideas may help ensure that your managers stay put.
1. Nurture a positive company culture.
"Given that managers often stay because they like those they manage, it's important to ensure that your managers feel as if their voices are heard and respected," says Crenshaw. "Managers want to be a part of a culture where they feel they are clearly communicated with and supported so they can do their jobs for their teams."
2. Keep lines of communication open.
"The main thing an employer needs to do to help ensure manager retention is have candid conversations with managers," suggests Brent Thurman, president of Bear River Mutual Agent: Keystone Insurance Services.
Managers stay at companies because their personal purpose and the purpose of the company are in alignment.
—Paula Martin, CEO and chief creative officer, Matrix Management Institute
"Ask managers what they enjoy, what pains them and how they'd like to see their roles evolve in the future," continues Thurman. "If you listen to your managers and their answers, in theory, you shouldn't have any issues retaining quality leaders. Of course, there will be caveats to this rule, but in general it's about listening and following up on conversations with realistic deliverables."
3. Seek managers who give a hand up.
"Good managers are those who work for the greater good, not just for their own ego needs," says Paula Martin, CEO and chief creative officer at Matrix Management Institute, which offers a fully integrated organizational operating system.
"Good managers uplift and develop talent. They will do what's right for the company, not just what's right for their career," says Martin, who is also the author of Matrix Management Reinvented. "For manager retention, seek out the good managers and weed out the bad, and you'll have a healthier and more productive business."
4. Make it meaningful.
"Managers stay at companies because their personal purpose and the purpose of the company are in alignment," says Martin. "People want to accomplish something bigger than themselves, and most want to do something they feel is meaningful. If they perceive what they're doing is meaningful and aligned to their purpose, they are more likely to stay, even if the job is difficult or stressful."
5. Create a culture of success.
"To create a culture of success that helps with manager retention, start by developing realistic goals and avoid setting deadlines before the team has had a chance to plan and see what's possible," says Martin. "Also include contingency plans in estimates. This is a way of ensuring teams can be successful, and success builds on itself."
6. Give managers decision-making authority.
For manager retention, it's important that managers have control over their environments, notes Jim Christy, CEO of Postali, a legal marketing agency for law firms.
"This could mean allowing them to spend their budget in the way that they see fit—without micro-management—or giving them the authority to remove team members if they aren't a fit for their team," says Christy.
7. Offer growth opportunities.
"People who earned their way up to management are inherently motivated to grow," says LJ Suzuki, a fractional CFO and founder of CFOshare, an outsourced finance and accounting department for small businesses.
"Offer your managers continuous growth opportunities so they feel they're advancing their careers," says Suzuki. "Think of such opportunities as a form of compensation, just like salary. "
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