Ignore front-line leaders at your peril (Guest commentary)

Employees who need the most care often paired with least-prepared leaders
By Bob Kelleher
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 04/08/2011

We’ve all heard the old adage, “Employees join great companies, but quit bad managers.” It’s true. Based on research, the key driver of engagement is the relationship with one’s direct manager. If line managers are disengaged, their employees are more likely to be disengaged themselves. However, we woefully under invest in supervisory training.

A recent survey by Canadian HR Reporter and the Human Resources Professional Association highlights the impact of bad managers on employee engagement, turnover and morale. The survey of 793 HR professionals found 73 per cent believed managers who bully, speak inappropriately to staff, play favorites and are disrespectful pose a significant problem. About one in 10 managers are considered to be “problem managers,” according to more than one-half of the survey respondents.

Just imagine what the results would be if companies were able to turn things around and engage these managers. Front-line leaders can truly make or break engagement efforts because they are perfectly positioned to transmit key information up and down the ranks. Clearly, if front-line leaders are not in alignment with the company’s engagement goals, the chances of success are slim to none.