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You’ve spent a lot of time, money, and resources finding that perfect recruit and with no warning, they are choosing to leave your business. Emotions are high and, in some cases, bridges are burnt during the exit process.

Even if unintentional, staff are treated differently during their notice period.

Bonuses are held back (in line with their employment contract) and in some cases, staff are totally ostracised until they finally walk out the door, never to be heard of again.

When the primary issue that business leaders are raising with Hintel is ‘finding the right talent’ then this cycle or behaviour needs to be managed and eliminated. So, what is the real issue? The first place to check is the interview and offer process.

Was the new employee lowballed because they were desperate for a new job? Or did you promise them something that you didn’t provide? Was the business doing better than you articulated so there was a disparity between what the new starter expected and what they saw?

As I’d like to focus on management, then all I would recommend is, to be honest about these questions. Put yourself in the shoes of the employee and ask if you would stick around if this was your first week/month/year. It may be a very different experience from the one you enjoyed.

Depending on your sector of the industry, management can come with a variety of backstories. If you are in a sales environment, then it’s likely you are a top performer who can hopefully inspire others to follow suit. In a non-sales environment, owning more technical expertise, holding higher qualification levels and a general desire to manage can be the starting point.

I’d like to shine a light on the initial selection process of the manager in your business and the skills they require to develop.

Whilst not exhaustive, the questions below are a good starting point to understand your management and organisational landscape.

  • How long does it typically take for an employee to progress to management level?
  • What is the background of your most successful manager?
  • Which manager needs the most development and why?
  • Is there any correlation between attrition levels and manager competence?

Managers require a natural empathy coupled with a genuine desire to spend their time improving the skills of their colleagues. If you know deep down that the person you’re considering doesn’t have that organic desire then find an alternative career path for them.

It’s better for them and certainly better for anyone who may be managed by them. But how do you find this out? Regardless of whether they are a new hire or an existing employee the key remains evidence.

What, in either their personal or professional life demonstrates that they have put others ahead of themselves and shared their knowledge to benefit others? What evidence would you offer up?

Having found your manager, give them the freedom to manage in their own style but under a structured framework. Has the business provided base templates for appraisals, are there set promotional criteria that they can manage their team by?

Without these tools, there will be more decisions made on emotion or gut feeling rather than evidence. The most liked employee may not be the one that needs the most praise and attention.

Employees often tell managers they want to be trained so ensure your managers have the time to coach or educate their staff. Allocating a designated time for upskilling will allow the employee to have real clarity and a roadmap in place to progress.

This is not for day-to-day queries, referrals, or escalations. It can be sharing experiences or working through technical detail that just hasn’t sunk to date. The added benefit this has is it gives managers a platform to build a relationship on, instills respect between both manager and employee, and the fact that the more someone sees you have a genuine interest in their improvement, they will open up more on what help they need and work at a higher productivity level.

In return for the manager’s consistency, a manager needs to feel secure to make mistakes. They will make a call that loses a customer, they will be unable to work with every member of their team to drive success at every hour of the day. However, unless you sign up to the concept that it’s quicker to chuck both bath water and baby out of the water then your overall foundations will reward you.

Think about your management selection process, and be brutally honest about the person you want to progress, being a manager just might not be the right route for certain staff members.

Build a solid foundation with uniform management training where the fundamental company expectations are delivered along with the tool kit to meet those standards. Be clear that the role evolves as the skills and dynamics of the team change. Work with them to ask questions, your employees will tell you a lot of things if you just ask and are prepared to listen. Then, when the inevitable happens and you lose that treasured employee to one of your competitors, you’ll all be able to sit in a room together and go “well it wasn’t my fault was it…”

Pete Sheppard