Recently, Media Partners conducted a series of focus groups with high-level HR and L&D professionals to discuss a new product we will soon be launching. Unexpectedly, the majority of our attendees didn't follow the script we wrote. Instead, they wanted to discuss how important it is for the managers in their organizations to take a stronger role in ensuring employee engagement and a more positive culture. The focus group participants highlighted the need to upskill and empower their managers to address culture-impacting areas such as unconscious bias, sexual harassment, inclusion and more.
The focus group input confirmed the necessity of manager-specific training that Media Partners has already been developing.
What We Already Know about Managers
People managers occupy some of the most critical roles in organizations. They are the human connections between companies and the workers who build products, deliver services, and engage in face-to-face interactions with customers. Managers must be effective leaders, teachers, developers of talent, and more if they are to optimize the productivity of the employee teams they lead.
Perhaps most importantly, managers also perform the vital function of communicating organizational culture and culture-change initiatives to employees by:
role-modeling and embodying company values
explaining and applying organizational policies
ensuring that employees are treated respectfully and fairly
What We Need to Understand About the Critical Role Managers Play in Setting Organizational Culture
76% of employees say it’s their managers who establish workplace culture1
87% say their manager influences the environment in which their teams work2
58% of employees who say they left a job because of company culture actually did so because of their managers1
Among employees who describe their company culture as poor, only 24% say that they trust their managers; 81% say their managers ignore workers’ bad behavior2
62% of employees who are actively looking for a different job say they’ve seen their manager overlook other workers’ bad behavior2
Up to 27% higher revenue per employee has been attributed to the presence of talented managers1
Manager Communication is Key (and Manager Training is Essential)
When managers fail to fulfill their roles as communicators of corporate culture or culture change, the effects can be damaging.
“Lack of communication [between managers and workers] is a leading contributor to the culture issues facing many organizations,” according to research by SHRM2, which found that about one in five workers who left jobs in the past five years, did so because of the employer’s culture. SHRM further reported2 that “81% of workers who rated their culture as poor indicated that their manager allows employees to get away with bad behavior.”
In today’s economic climate, employers can’t afford to ignore the training that managers need to build positive cultures and respectful, inclusive workplaces. That training must help managers learn how to listen effectively to employees, consistently articulate and implement company policies and values, and take responsibility for holding workers accountable for their behavior.
Developing in managers an awareness of the sometimes subtle, sometimes overt behaviors that are—and are not—desired in a respectful work environment is key to inspiring and empowering them to address inappropriate behavior.
Developing in managers an awareness of the sometimes subtle, sometimes overt behaviors that are—and are not—desired in a respectful work environment is key to inspiring and empowering them to address inappropriate behavior. The following video clip from Media Partners’ How Was Your Day? Getting Real about Bias, Diversity and Inclusion, and Harassment provides a powerful example of what can happen when employees are coached and empowered by managers and powerful training.
Video-based instruction like this provides managers with learning they can put into action and use to drive positive outcomes. A different section of the same How Was Your Day? Getting Real about Bias, Diversity and Inclusion, and Harassment Manager eLearning course, features an ACT acronym– Approach, Care, Talk– which outlines the upstander behaviors managers can promote within their teams to help build a positive work culture.
Skills Managers Need to Shape Culture
Media Partners specializes in topics related to building diverse and inclusive workplaces and understands the crucial role managers play in achieving a successful result. That’s why our award-winning training programs include manager versions that help managers cultivate the unique skills required to positively shape culture. This includes teaching them to:
Lead by example, filtering their words and actions to ensure that their personal conduct is professional and respectful
Provide support for colleagues by encouraging anyone who feels uncomfortable or harassed to speak up—to harassers, managers, or HR
Teach their employees to be upstanders who speak up when they see or hear any type of harassment
Set and enforce the expectation that inappropriate conduct of any kind will not be tolerated