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If productivity is down, why training managers can help

Hannah Yardley, Achievers
Hannah Yardley
Hannah is a talent leader with over 20 years of experience consulting to a variety of global organizations in the areas of talent strategy, operational excellence and cultural transformations. As the CHRO at Achievers, her mandate is to empower employee success through all facets, employee engagement, organizational effectiveness, organization development and talent strategy.

It’s been a few tough years for employers. After COVID, social unrest and, now, economic uncertainty, employee morale is down, which negatively impacts both wellbeing and productivity. Contemplating how to fix it? Prioritize your company’s people leaders to best support your entire team.

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People leaders have the closest pulse to your organization and are closest to where work gets done, so therefore, they represent your people. People leaders are the backbone of any organization because they are uniquely positioned to understand and mold team perceptions of management and culture.

To drive success, increase companywide efficiency and boost morale in 2023 and beyond, the C-suite must understand the value of people leaders and focus on empowering them, as most managers aren’t born with natural leadership skills. According to data from Achievers Workforce Institute, those who would recommend their managers are 2.1 times more likely to be highly productive at work. This statistic illustrates a critical point: With the right training, managers can inspire, support and develop employees in impactful ways.

When contemplating how to upskill these leaders effectively, focus on the three key capabilities that every superstar people leader embodies: fostering workplace connections, building a culture of recognition, and delivering and encouraging meaningful feedback.

Your case for upskilling today’s people leaders

Business leaders are responsible for training and preparing managers not only to manage, but to lead. Strong people leaders are essential to a company’s overall success because these managers work with all levels of employees and can help build resilient teams, a major factor when coming up against a pending recession and global unrest.

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Unlike human resource professionals and C-suite executives, people leaders have the power to learn of performance issues and employee concerns long before warning signs of disengagement or burnout emerge. However, new or struggling people leaders may need additional guidance to gain this visibility into their direct reports’ work lives and take corrective action.

Tenured, high-performing team leaders should take new managers under their wing, providing them with proper insight, development and support. In doing so, these rockstar managers transform into strategic coaches. This vital transformation cannot take place unless your organization establishes clear policies, objectives, development plans and training to work in tandem with their seasoned team leaders’ guidance.

See also: As pressure mounts on managers, ways to improve their effectiveness

Increase productivity with rock-star people leaders

Some companies may believe they’re already fostering optimal productivity and, therefore, neglect emphasizing proper leadership training. Yet, these companies would be shocked to learn that only 25% of employees report being their most productive selves at work. So, how can 25% turn into 100? By developing people leaders who drive workplace cultures that promote connections, meaningful feedback and recognition.

  1. Fostering workplace connections

Although often overlooked, fostering connection in the workplace is a critical ingredient for creating unstoppable teams. In fact, employees who say their company supports them in creating and maintaining friendships at work are 2.6 times more likely to report being their most productive selves at work. People leaders play a vital role in promoting employee connections by encouraging socializing, establishing employee resource groups and using digital tools for cross-functional and geographical networking, which are especially helpful for hybrid and remote employees.

  1. Building a culture of recognition

Promoting and giving employee recognition effectively encourages a strong sense of belonging and resilience. Employees with a strong sense of belonging are more than twice as likely to be resilient and three times more likely to say they are highly productive at work. People leaders can promote employee recognition by giving recognition every month, encouraging peer and mentor recognition, and building recognition into the flow of work through innovative HR technology software to best reach the entire team, even if remote.

  1. Delivering and encouraging meaningful feedback

Another key component for any strong leadership team? Providing and encouraging feedback. Employees who say their organization takes meaningful action on feedback are almost three times more likely to say they are their most productive selves at work. People leaders can facilitate employee feedback by regularly asking for feedback through a variety of methods, from surveys to Q&A sessions. Then, people leaders can demonstrate that they’re listening and addressing employee feedback by leveraging it to build and adapt leadership plans.

The three competencies of people leaders illustrated above drive productive, engaged workforces. Yet not every employee comes leadership-ready with these competencies naturally ingrained in their skill set. Thankfully, these qualities can be learned. If you provide your people leaders with the resources and partners needed to develop these vital skills, you will witness increased productivity, engagement and employee wellbeing, ultimately bolstering employee retention and business overall.