By Adam Weber
Chief Evangelist, 15Five
Strategic HR leaders today are taking a closer look at the issues that arise when managers are not set up for success. At the same time, executives are finally seeing the light and sanctioning more investment in manager enablement than ever before. Case in point: In 2023, 60% of HR executives said leader and manager effectiveness was their top priority, according to a study by Gartner.
Here, we’ll look at some of the ways technology can enhance manager enablement, in turn yielding positive HR outcomes including better performance, engagement and retention.
The Thoughtful Implementation of Software
HR leaders have a tremendous opportunity to develop more effective leaders by developing a strategic manager-enablement program inclusive of manager education, training and coaching – powered by the right tools and actionable data. To start, you should be thoughtfully incorporating software that can enable your talent development initiatives and accelerate behavior change.
Having software for things like one-on-ones, engagement surveys and goal setting makes it a lot easier for managers to initiate, and employees to participate in, these activities. The goal is for these things to become habits that are ingrained into the normal flow of work – they’re efficient, effective and beneficial for both the manager and direct reports.
This technology also carries several benefits for the HR team, as it can provide insights into manager performance and identify which managers may need additional support or training. Some examples of touchpoints where having technology can amplify impact:
- Being prompted to give recognition at the end of a check-in.
- Getting a ping to review the priorities of an employee every Friday to ensure alignment.
- Having a documented, accessible high-level performance conversation at least twice a year.
Software helps you identify where work needs to be done so you can begin to scale your efforts and make a real impact when it comes to manager enablement.
Coaching as a Way to Prepare Managers to Lead Effectively
Pairing the right technology with education and data-driven manager coaching is a powerful combination. At 15Five, we conducted a 2022 study that polled 1,000 U.S. adults employed full time to understand how people feel about their potential for career advancement within their workplace. The research found that 65% of managers feel underprepared and struggle to perform in their roles. They need – and want – more training and development to bolster their leadership skills. Our research also found that 76% of candidates for open manager roles would be more likely to accept a position when management training or coaching is offered.
While most strategic HR leaders believe in the importance of coaching in the workplace, you’d be surprised by how many teams don’t have people on staff with coaching expertise. If this is the case for you, partnering with a third-party can bring resources and fresh perspective to help you execute coaching at scale. Ongoing learning and development is important to managers and leaders at every level.
To optimize effectiveness, anyone who manages people needs a solid foundation of learning, enabled by software and coaching. This practice becomes scalable and measurable with technology.
Measuring Manager Effectiveness
Before you can improve manager effectiveness, you have to be able to measure it. Without data and insights about how your managers are performing and a detailed view of the specific areas that need work, you’ll spend a lot of time and money on the wrong things — with minimal results.
Many companies have turned to surveys as a means to measure manager effectiveness due to their relative ease of administration and ability to gather insights directly from employees. However, relying solely on surveys to gauge manager effectiveness presents several limitations.
Surveys often capture only a snapshot of a manager’s performance because they lack the ability to encompass the full spectrum of their day-to-day interactions and nuanced decision making. Additionally, survey responses, which are captured at only one point in time, can be influenced by a range of variables including the timing of the survey, individual biases and the perceived anonymity of the process. This leads to potentially incomplete or skewed assessments.
Effective management is dynamic and multifaceted, which is why an equally dynamic and multifaceted approach to measuring it is needed, including incorporating an array of real-time data sources.
To assess a manager’s impact and abilities, a two-pronged approach is needed. This includes a combination of individual goal setting/tracking and HR software developed specifically to measure manager effectiveness. The latter requires an ability to continuously pull in real-time data, make sense of it and come up with the right next steps to move the needle on helping managers improve. This can only be done with the right technology in place.
HR leaders have a huge opportunity to develop more effective leaders with the right tools, training and actionable data. Software, coaching and a baseline measurement for manager effectiveness that can then be tracked over time is a great place to start as you think about how to set up managers for success. With more effective managers comes better employee performance, engagement and retention – the outcomes that matter most to the C-Suite and help HR prove its strategic value to an organization.
Adam Weber is chief evangelist at 15Five, the performance-management platform that drives business results by continuously measuring the indicators of employee engagement and performance that matter most. He’s the host of 15Five’s HR Superstars podcast and author of the book Lead Like A Human.