Poor Behavioural Control of “New Managers” Is Costing You More Than You Realise

There are occasions when events from our personal lives cause us to focus our professional lens on an issue and consider it more deeply. It is commonly understood that New Managers – be they in their first managerial position or having newly taken over managing a pre-existing team – find themselves in a high risk and often costly phase financially for their employer.


A close friend has recently encountered a very challenging reporting relationship at work, not of his choosing. Though extremely competent and historically a high performer, this friend is no saint. However the behavioural impact of the new manager has led to a toxic working environment and strained relationship. Despite glowing internal appraisals for years, international acclaim through winning industry awards and a desire to keep working for the organisation, the working relationship with his new manager has deteriorated to the point where this friend was abruptly told 2 weeks ago that he would be getting terminated. 


This is not an unfamiliar story to many I am sure. The breakdown in relationships between manager and direct report is the cause of many if not most employee departures from Organisations. It is worth considering though, how many of these are caused directly by the Managers own limitations of not being capable of managing a diverse team and fail to Attach people to themselves as manager. 


To be successful, Managers newly pointed or elevated must have the ability to use a range of management behavioural styles to ensure retention and alignment of team members, without suffering a change crisis or breakdown in relationships. They must work with their new Direct Reports to ensure an “Affiliative” working relationship is established, built on mutual Trust, Respect and Value in each other. They must ensure they do not trigger Security concerns and must ensure team members continue to feel that they are Accepted and that they Belong to the team.


If this is done well then New managers are able to build a "Team" environment which is focussed on achieving shared goals and supporting each other to achieve both individual and the team goals. Too often this is not achieved as managers often commence with directive and coercive styles to ensure conformity and need clear indications that there is respect for their authority. Team members usually fail to embrace this style of relationship. When discontent is voiced, it is usually considered the Direct Report who has caused the breakdown. 


Many managers look for conformity to their singular management style (Directive) rather than embrace the pre-existing diversity of the team, which in large part has contributed to the historic success of the team they have inherited? When this occurs, you normally find a functionally, technically capable individual who has been chosen to manage rather than a capable manager. This can be a very costly mistake for an organisation to make in their manager selection.


In the situation regarding my friend, it is likely that both contributed to the breakdown in some way - I did mention he was no saint. However the manager has clearly chosen to allow this relationship to deteriorate to the point where they are choosing to terminate a highly capable, highly effective and highly valuable person from the organisation rather than work to find a way to retain them. These types of situations are often brushed under the carpet and dismissed by the Organisation as the manager "cleaning house" and getting rid of the "problems". In large part this is to lessen the pain of knowing that the manager who has just been appointed has actually cost the organisation very large amounts of money. 


Loosing high performing people because of the manager's inability to embrace the diversity in a pre-existing team is a very expensive exercise. Not only is the organisation losing the intellectual capital, relationship capital and productivity contribution of this key resource, they are also committing the organisation to have to invest in recruiting for replacement. The recruitment and Onboarding exercise is hugely expensive and high risk as you are not guaranteed of finding a better alternative to the one you just exited. 


Taking these costs into consideration and the alternative costs the organisation might have incurred to work with both parties to either resolve the differences or help the manager to learn how to manage diversity in their team more effectively, the manager has chosen the most high risk and expensive path for the organisation. Even factoring an inability to resolve the working relationship, the organisation could still have found a way to retain the value in the person by attempting to shift their reporting line or relocate them.


I am not suggesting that there isn't a time to exit an employee who is actively disengaged. That certainly occurs - however when that disengagement is caused by the non-constructive management style of the manager because of their lack of ability to flex and adapt their style, this is a problem that will repeat itself for this manager and continue to be expensive for the organisation. There is a big difference between an employee who does not like working for a manager and one who does not like working for the organisation. If you still have an organisationally engaged employee, organisations must move quickly to address the manager development needs or realign the employee to a new manager to avoid losing valuable people for the wrong reasons.


If you are interested in investing in manager/leadership behavioural adaptability or indeed learning more about Manager Behavioural Impact on Employee Attachment across your organisation, then you can contact anthony@sorkhc.com.au or visit www.shcBOND.com

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