Meme Partners | Team Leaders
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22 Jan Team Leaders

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Three weeks into the new year and I’ve already had 3 separate conversations with clients about “the middle management problem” – how to engage team leaders in change.

For years, research* has shown that the quality of the relationship with your manager is the single largest variable in employee engagement, productivity and loyalty.  So it’s disturbing to read in the latest Tower Watson Global Workforce Study** that only 46% of staff believe their own manager has enough time to fulfil the people part of his or her role.

Then it seems every time there’s a restructure, the middle management level sees deep cuts, so there’s likely less and less time available.

I remember reading about a US canned goods company MorningStar,*** which had done away with managers altogether – in favour of individual accountability, goal-setting and peer feedback.  Their success raises some exciting thoughts about the potential of individual engagement, but it obviously isn’t the right approach for all organisations.

For the rest of us, unless we’re willing to equip and entrust all staff to manage themselves, we clearly need to do much more to support the team leaders.  There are things that help: celebrating the importance of the role and demonstrating the approaches that work, or developing tools to help managers have the right conversations with their teams.  But we can’t let them fail.

* First, Break All the Rules, Buckingham and Coffman
** Tower Watson Global Workforce Study 2012 (pdf)
*** First Let’s Fire All The Managers, Harvard Business Review, December 2011

 

Kate Messenger
kate.m@meme-partners.com

Managing Director

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