How To Set Managers Up To Succeed, Not Fail

This comment has been well reported, people don’t leave bad companies they leave bad bosses. Unfortunately this saying is very true and businesses are suffering from the loss of great people who are very hard to replace. Turning over staff is not always a bad thing, particularly when it’s the ones who are not improving, set in their ways and not open to change. However, with bad bosses, the under performers seem to stay and you lose the good ones, an absolute recipe for disaster.

Why is it, that we have a number of bad managers? Being a big fan of the company Gallup, a global analytics and advice firm, focusing on people management, I read with much interest an article that described the top two reasons why managers get promoted into the role of manager. I have asked this question at numerous training sessions and client meetings and not many get the two answers that Gallup found from decades of research.

The number two reason – is based on tenure. If you have been at a company long enough, you’ll eventually get promoted into a management role.

The number one reason – the team member had success in a previous role, however, the previous role was not related to a management role. This is the classic where a business promotes the best sales person into the role of sales manager and it all goes wrong. Sales suffer because the best sales person is not out their making sales and the team suffers because the new sales manager is great at motivating themselves but not others.

When managers account for at least 70% of employee engagement scores, (Gallup), then selecting the wrong manager is a sure fire way to send the great people packing as they get frustrated with the new manager’s inability to lead and motivate. How do you know what skills a great manager needs to have? Gallup identified the five following key skills:

  • They motivate every single employee to take action and engage employees with a compelling mission and vision.
  • They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.
  • They create a culture of clear accountability.
  • They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.
  • They make decisions based on productivity, not politics

What I have found is that a large number of managers are task focused, as that is what they have been successful at in previous roles, achieving tasks. You will notice that the 5 skills above have nothing to do with completing tasks, they are all about leading a team to be successful. A key skill required to do this is coaching, as this ticks all of the above boxes, particularly assertiveness, accountability, open dialogue and building trust.

Unfortunately, most managers we come across don’t naturally know how to coach. This is where we come in, our premium training program, Leaders as Coaches, which we have run in over 30 countries, provides managers with the skills to successfully coach their team. If you’d like to know more simply visit

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.