How HR software can identify bad managers in summary…

  • A new study has discovered HR’s efforts to create effective staff retention strategies are being undermined by poorly trained or bad people managers.
  • HR teams must undertake several key activities to identify bad managers harming their retention efforts. Amongst other things, these include collecting employee feedback, tracking turnover rates, monitoring absenteeism rates, assessing employee engagement scores, examining performance key performance metrics and conducting exit interviews.
  • HR software solutions – such as Cezanne HR – are key in supporting those activities. They support more accurate data-driven decision making, keep data centralised and make key activities simpler and faster to carry out.

The subject of staff retention continues to be a hot topic as we approach the end of 2023.

With many companies struggling to fill vacancies in a cooling labour market, retaining hard to replace talent is order of the day. However, a new study by the Chartered Management Institute claims that so-called ‘bad managers’ are having a demonstrable and damaging effect on these efforts.

How HR software can identify bad managers Cezanne HR blog

In particular, the study shows widespread concern over the quality of managers, with 82% of bosses deemed ‘accidental’, having had no formal training and seemingly ill-equipped to deal with the rigours of people management. Worse still, 28% of survey participants admitted to leaving a job in the past due to a negative relationship with a manager.

This is obviously an alarming issue. HR have already had to contend with a number of negative workforce trends in the past 18 months; including ‘The Great Resignation’ and so-called ‘Quiet Quitting.’ The last thing they need during a chronic skills shortage within a shrinking workforce is employees leaving due to the actions (or inactions) of their managers.

So, what can be done?

Using HR software to identify if bad managers are harming retention efforts

The good news is that identifying bad managers and taking positive remedial actions can be made easier by powerful HR software solutions.

By leveraging HR software to collect, analyse, and interpret relevant people data, you can gain valuable insights into whether poor managers are adversely affecting your critical staff retention efforts. These insights will enable you to take informed actions to address any issues you find, and improve your employee retention efforts in the process.

Here are the core actions you should undertake…

1. Collect feedback from your employees

If you’re worried bad managers may be harming your talent retention efforts, start by collecting feedback from your employees. This is where HR software can make this process much easier.

HR software that includes pulse survey functionality can be vital in collecting regular and targeted feedback. This is because they provide frequent and real-time responses from employees to relevant questions, such as ‘I feel I’m supported by my line manager’, ‘I would recommend working at (your company name) to others’, or ‘I feel comfortable giving my opinions and feedback to managers’.

In addition, pulse surveys – alongside annual engagement surveys and other engagement initiatives – can help you measure your Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). Compare your organisation’s own engagement scores for teams managed by different individuals to identify if there’s a correlation between lower engagement and specific managers.

When you’re able to gather those types of employee-led insights, you’ll be better placed to rapidly identify managerial issues, their potential impact on staff retention efforts, and be better placed to take remedial actions. To learn more about the pulse survey questions you should regularly be asking your employees, just follow this link.

2. Analyse employee performance reviews and associated data

HR systems that include integrated performance management software can help you identify bad managers by highlighting patterns, trends in performance ratings and feedback related to specific managers. For example, are there consistently lower performances or negative feedback associated with certain managers? Or, has the introduction of a new manager caused a dip in staff performances?

Also, look to analyse key performance indicators (KPIs) and productivity metrics for teams managed by different individuals. This will allow you to check for differences in performance that could be attributed to ineffective or poor management styles.

Integrated performance management modules give both HR professionals and managers alike a more complete picture when it comes to analysing why staff may not be performing to their best. To learn how integrated performance management solutions can give you a more comprehensive view of staff performances, just follow this link.

3. Track your staff turnover rates

Modern HR software platforms include sophisticated analytical tools that can help you more accurately – and easily – track staff turnover rates. To identify a potential bad manager, compare turnover rates for teams or departments managed by different individuals. You could even look to compare your own rate of attrition to other businesses within your sector.

High turnover rates within specific teams could be indicative of poor management practices, or perhaps a manager lacking the key skills required to manage people effectively. On the other hand, it may not be down to a bad manager at all and instead, be related to wider issues with engagement, compensation or culture. To find out how HR software can harness the power of data when it comes to reducing staff turnover, just follow this link.

4. Monitor rates of absenteeism and unplanned leave

HR systems with integrated absence management software can help accurately track rates of employee absenteeism and levels sick leave. So, if you spot increased unplanned absenteeism in teams led by certain managers, it may indicate employees are dissatisfied with them, their practices, or have become unengaged from their jobs. Also, the right analytical tools will allow you to drill down into your absence records in more detail, meaning you can investigate underlying information from multiple angles.

5. Don’t forget to conduct exit interviews

The traditional exit interview with departing employees provides a vital opportunity to gather crucial feedback from your employees. After all, with their focus on the future and their next challenge, they’ll be more likely to give honest and unfiltered feedback about their workplace experiences –including discussing whether their managers have been a factor in their decision to leave.

As you gather responses from your departing employees, use your HR software to identify any trends emerging in your data. These could point to recurring themes or issues related to their managers that could have influenced their decision to leave.

6. Compare and cross-reference employee’s feedback to managerial practices

The process of identifying a bad manager will involve a heck of a lot of feedback gathering. Fortunately, that feedback can be used to cross-reference other information you’ll have within your HR system, such as performance evaluations, turnover rates, absenteeism, and other data points with managerial practices.

Look for consistent patterns where poor manager behaviour or practices align with negative outcomes – such as increased rates of absenteeism, for example. You’ll then have the data-driven, ‘smoking gun’ proof you’ll need to instigate more positive remedial actions.

7. Identify managerial training and development needs…

With your analysis in place, identify areas where managers might need additional training or development to improve their leadership and people management skills. HR systems that include training and development software built-in can then be used to schedule and track your training initiatives.

One initiative you may want to consider with helping perceived ‘bad managers’ is mentoring. It’s a great way for HR to support line managers with their people management responsibilities – especially for managers who might have been thrust onto the front lines in a hurry, or are struggling to see the value of devoting time to their people and engagement duties. You can read more about mentoring here.

8. … and then implement your improvement strategies

Lastly, once you’ve identified your manager’s training and development needs, implement targeted strategies to address the issues that have been highlighted. This could involve providing more formal training to managers, addressing specific concerns, offering mentoring opportunities, or perhaps making managerial changes.

Don’t forget: your managers are crucial to workplace satisfaction and engagement

Although we’ve talked a lot about identifying bad managers, it’s worth noting that managers play a pivotal role in building satisfying and engaging workplaces – but, they can’t do it all on their own! HR professionals need to think about how they want to develop managers with the skillsets needed to support – and encourage – meaningful employee engagement. To learn more about how to do this, just follow this link.

Author bio: Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. He’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years, and has won multiple industry awards for his work.

Paul Bauer author image

Paul Bauer

Paul Bauer is the Head of Content at Cezanne HR. Based in the Utopia of Milton Keynes (his words, not ours!) he’s worked within the employee benefits, engagement and HR sectors for over four years. He's also earned multiple industry awards for his work - including a coveted Roses Creative Award.

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