Why Managers Matter

Insight for high potential performers who crash and burn into the management seat.

by Kat Schulte | April 1, 2022

We’ve got a mess in the middle of our organizations. The majority of high-potential people hit a development ceiling as individual contributors and have the choice to take a leap into management. They are so good at what they do, the next right thing is to manage others doing the same work, right?

Yet the leap between doing the work well and leading people to do the work is vast. And most folks making the jump crash land in the gap. We see this happening everywhere.

Effectiveness of managers correlates with level of team engagement

The manager may just be the most important role in our organizations. Gallup recently found that managers account for 70% of overall team engagement.  SEVENTY PERCENT.  That is a lot.

We know this experientially even before we know the numbers.  We’ve all had that job that was made unbearable because of a bad boss. And the lucky amongst us have had those bosses that made all the hard bits worth it because of who they were.  Our direct manager makes a big impact – for better or worse – in our work lives, and thus our greater lives as a whole. 

Why does engagement matter?

Because in teams with high engagement we see:

Why does engagement matter?
Because in teams with high engagement we see:

  • Lower Absenteeism 41% 41%
  • Less Turnover (in high turnover orgs) 24% 24%
  • Less Turnover (in low turnover orgs) 59% 59%
  • Less Safety Incidents 70% 70%
  • Higher Productivity 17% 17%
  • Higher Profitability 21% 21%

As Marcus Buckingham said in 9 Lies About Work, “People leave managers, not companies.” In a labor and talent shortage, we must pay attention to a variable that causes so many people to pull the escape hatch.  

So how do we make sure we fill our organizations with GOOD managers?  The answer feels obvious once it’s out there but so many of us miss it: Train them. 

Train your managers to be people leaders.

We believe people want to do well. At work, at home, at life. This is also true for leaders of people. Managers don’t want to be “bad.” Most often, they just have no idea what they are doing. 

This was true for Abigail from our team in her first job out of college. She started working at a non-profit in Seattle and was promoted to three different jobs within a year and a half – eventually sitting in a Director level seat and leading a team of 16.

“I felt such a shift as I entered this new role – feeling incompetent in my work for the first time, feeling the need to overwork and overachieve, when in reality, I needed to learn how to be a manager.”

If you’ve ever met Abigail, you will know she is a badass lady boss who manages all of our programs, communications and keeps our collective sh*t together. The people are not the problem. The gap in support and development for new managers is the problem.


Zero Training

Well over half of managers – 59% –  have never received training for their new leadership role. 

When asked what they needed more training in, managers and the people they manage report the following needs:

Communication skills
Interpersonal skill
Transitioning to leadership

Setting goals
Directing others
Managing conflict

Delegating Task
Performance Issue
Understanding HR policies
Conducting Performance Reviews

Sources:  SHRM | Forbes

Managers need human skills.

Leadership CAN BE LEARNED. It is not about inherent traits, effective people leaders have honed a set of learnable skills that are often very different from the set of skills necessary as an individual contributor. 

Human skills – emotional intelligence + interpersonal skills – are often classified as soft skills, but that implies that they are easy, weak, or superfluous. This could not be farther from the truth. The data and lived experience point a neon sign at human skills as must haves for a productive and healthy work environment.  

Managers are hungry for the human skills needed to do their jobs well. And teams are hungry for equipped leaders to create a team culture and environment where people and creativity can flourish. 

We grow your people leaders so you can grow your business.

We have developed Manage Like a Boss to equip managers to actually lead people utilizing their distinctive combination of Strengths and those of their team.  Join us in the good manager revolution. 


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