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The Future's Top Workplaces Will Rely on Manager Development

The Future's Top Workplaces Will Rely on Manager Development

by Vanessa A. Camilleri, Ph.D.

Story Highlights

  • Management practices haven't kept up with changing workplace demands
  • Disengaged employees cost the U.S. $960 billion to $1.2 trillion per year
  • Strengths development, not skills training, is what managers need

The needs of employees -- and the demands of the workplace -- have changed dramatically. And for the most part, the practice of management hasn't kept up at all. In fact, many "traditional" management practices aren't relevant anymore. Or even advisable.

They do waste a lot of economic value: Gallup estimates that the cost of poor management and lost productivity from not engaged or actively disengaged employees in the U.S. is between $960 billion and $1.2 trillion per year. Globally, the cost of poor management approaches $7 trillion -- or 9% to 10% of the world's GDP.

Leaders probably don't notice the trillions even while they're going down the drain. That's because traditional management practices don't usually cause overt damage. They just make employees a little less engaged, a little less loyal, a little less productive. But a "little less" adds up to a lot less profit -- which jeopardizes their company's future.

Globally, the cost of poor management approaches $7 trillion -- or 9% to 10% of the world's GDP.

Of course, not all leaders are throwing money down the drain. Some take manager development seriously. And those leaders are not interested in losing a little less. They're demanding a lot more from managers: more coaching, more engagement, more agility, more growth. They're demanding a better future for their company.

And they're getting it -- because they know what to look for in a manager development program.

How Businesses Increase Organic Growth Through Human Development

Learning design experts say that development programs should be multimodal, experiential, social, actionable, ongoing, relevant, personalized and flexible.

Gallup research proves they should zero in on the individual's unique capacities and intensely develop the things they do best. That's how businesses spur organic growth through human development.

The wrong kind of program is unfocused, shows no linkage to employee performance and business outcomes, occurs episodically, and offers no long-term support for individualized growth at the individual's pace. It's all about skills training, not strengths development -- and studies have shown that many people forget what they learn in corporate training programs within a week.

The right kind of development program teaches managers to be coaches, not bosses. This empowers them to triangulate the business' needs, employees' talents and customers' requirements in a practical, day-to-day context. That kind of development changes managers, and it changes companies too.

Gallup's meta-analysis of 1.2 million individuals and 49,495 work units in 45 countries shows that teams that received strengths-based development have achieved 19% increased sales, 29% higher profits, 59% fewer safety incidents and up to 72% less turnover. People who know and use their strengths are also six times as likely to be engaged at work.

The best kind of development program helps managers understand their unique leadership strengths, and it prepares managers at all levels to make better decisions and effectively lead their teams in a constantly evolving workplace. This kind of development is highly individualized, on demand, 24/7.

The Future of Work Is Here

Manager development like that used to be akin to science fiction, but advances in digital learning make it possible -- and not even very expensive.

But rigorous manager development is only as good as the analytics behind the learning and the way it's delivered. Managers need to know the independently validated practices that fuel growth.

They need to learn in the way that's effective for them, their people and their company. They need to know how to meet the will of the workforce and drive it toward better performance.

Traditional practices aren't up to that anymore. They probably never were -- but they pose a greater risk than they used to. Companies just don't have money to waste.

Nor time. The future of work is here. Leaders who take manager development seriously know that. The rest will soon learn.

Your manager development dollars shouldn't go down the drain. Capitalize on your learning efforts:


Jennifer Robison contributed to this article.

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