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Three Reasons to Start Investing in Your People Leaders Today

By Stephane Panier
October 14, 2021
3 minute read

This blog post is brought to you by BetterManager co-founder and CEO, Stephane Panier. BetterManager is a Betterworks partner and 100% virtual leadership development platform that leverages a combination of one-on-one coaching, group training, and technology to scale the effectiveness of all levels of managers.

I’ve struggled to get where I am today, but I am fortunate to have spent seven years of my professional life as an executive at Google, a company that invested heavily in its people leaders. Their commitment to the growth and development of employees inspired trust, instilled psychological safety, and fueled innovation. At the time, Google’s culture was considered revolutionary; today, competition for top talent has gotten so steep that companies who aren’t investing in their people are considered outdated anomalies. 

Back then, none of us could have imagined the way COVID-19 would impact the world of work. We could not have anticipated the wave of soul searching and introspection that has given way to The Great Resignation. Today, employers who aren’t paying attention to what employees really want are seeing high attrition rates with no sign of abatement in sight. 

The world of work has irreparably changed, and it’s why you need to start investing in your people leaders today. 

The Great Resignation has Arrived – And Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Over 15 million U.S. workers have left their jobs since April 2021. This number is staggering on its own, but what’s more interesting is why people are leaving. It’s not just about flexible working conditions or compensation; it’s about thriving at work.

A recent study by McKinsey shows that people care most about relational components of work vs. transactional ones like compensation. The top three reasons why employees are quitting? 1) not feeling valued by their organizations, 2) not feeling valued by their managers, and 3) not feeling a sense of belonging at work. These issues can be addressed, but they require company-wide investment in learning and development, communication, organizational justice, and inclusive leadership. 

Conventional wisdom would say that you shouldn’t leave your job without having another one lined up, but 64% of employees who are “somewhat likely to quit” in the next 3-6 months said they would do so without another job offer in hand. 

For actionable insights on how to create a thriving workplace environment during The Great Resignation, check out this recent post

Workplace Learning is the Key to Driving Future Outcomes

The world is changing at a rapid pace, which means companies need to be agile and responsive to properly meet society’s needs. To do this, learning needs to happen in the flow of work, not in classrooms. Once equipped with the skills necessary to facilitate learning on the go, people managers can engage their team members in real-time to notice trends, make adjustments, and continually adapt to changing conditions. 

Learning to learn requires humility, open-mindedness, a growth mindset, and a clear commitment from employers. Elizabeth Young McNalley, leader of the McKinsey Academy says that organizations with a strong learning culture often engage senior leaders in storytelling and role modeling. 

When leaders acknowledge their mistakes and how they grew from them, it creates a safe space for employees to try new things, fail, and grow smarter from their errors. 

The Critical and Evolving Role of People Leaders

A 2018 Gallup poll revealed that 50% of employees left their jobs to get away from a bad manager. At BetterManager, we always say that people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers. 

Managers with a punitory mindset create fear and shame, which deters learning and innovation. Managers with a coaching mindset facilitate learning and reflection, which motivates employees to try new things. 

Effective people leaders prioritize the learning and development of employees. This is called Servant Leadership, and it has been proven effective in increasing employee trust and organizational citizenship behaviors, contributing to a more just, healthy workplace environment where everyone feels valued.

The Stakes are High and the Time for Action Was Yesterday

The pandemic has provided space and time for people to examine and reprioritize their lives in relation to family, friends, and overall well-being. The cultural shift from office-based to remote/hybrid work has transformed the way we interact with our colleagues and supervisors, and what we look for and expect from our employers. 

Many are unwilling to relinquish their newfound flexibility. Employers can no longer take for granted a pliable or obedient workforce motivated to please simply for a paycheck. 

To compete for the best talent, organizations must appeal to people’s sense of purpose, both personal and professional. In short, today’s workforce has higher standards for their employers than ever before.

Is your organization ready for this challenge? You can start addressing it by making a true investment in the growth and development of your people leaders.