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Breaking The RULES

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The Rebel Leader: How Some Managers Are Breaking The Rules Post-COVID To Retain Talent

Nov 9, 2022

I cover organizational culture, mental health and employee engagement. Got it! Got it! getty If leaders want to understand what is contributing to quiet-quitting and the great resignation, they need look no further than the changing role of the manager. This year, I have been able to interview a group of team managers who have been successful at retaining people. Some of these leaders have told me that they have had to work around the company rules—or at least give them a good bending—to benefit their team members. They are increasing employee pay, permitting flexible hours, and granting people greater control in how they do their work. The key concept I’m hearing centers around granting their people more freedom. Younger workers especially are jumping ship in search of more personal freedom in supportive environments. Workers rarely leave teams where their leader is courageously trying to take care of them. A company I’ve been working with just surveyed the top 30 of their location managers (out of 1,000). These GMs had the highest employee engagement scores, retention, and store profitability. Company brass wanted to know what these folks were doing differently. Not one of these managers credited their success to a focus on KPIs, sales quotas, or client relationships. No, they all talked about supporting their team members. Here’s a little of the advice they had for fellow managers who might be struggling: · “Take care of your people and the results will follow.” · “Never fail to show appreciation.” · “Get to know and understand your team members.” Recommended For You · “Give people freedom and choice in deciding how to do their work.” · “Listen, listen, listen.” Soft skills, they said, provide the edge in retention. One manager outlined a creative flextime process she had instituted in a service location that typically had never offered such a benefit (as the place needed 7 am to 7 pm coverage). One said how he had displayed more vulnerability, opening up about his own life challenges to get his people to share their own stories. Another described how he found ways to pay his people more (pushing the limits of what HR thought was acceptable). Another said how she had started regularly recognizing team members but—since such expenses would not be reimbursed by the company—had to hide the expenses in her supply and travel budget. Many of the younger employees I’ve spoken with believe the number of paths to personal freedom are shrinking for them. The cost of living has soared while wages in most cases have not kept pace. This has left many saying they are not as willing to sacrifice their time and potentially their emotional health to work as hard for their employers. They are asking why they should put in equal hours to previous generations who were able to afford to buy houses; invest in the stock market; plan for retirement; and had greater access to healthcare, food and other basic necessities. This brings us back to the direct manager. Workers in many cases are taking their frustrations out on their supervisors, who may be simply acting as the enforcer of corporate policies. That’s why many of the most effective managers today I call Rebel Leaders. They often bend their own organizational rules. They are asking how they can support their people and give them a little more freedom. This is creating some big questions about the role managers will need to assume going forward. One thing is for certain, the best managers advocate for their people. As for organizational executives watching this, it’s time to rethink the role of the supervisor. That means rethinking how they can best support workers on the front-line. For now, the best managers may still have to break a few rules now and then. Follow me on  LinkedIn . Check out my  website .

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