To face a changing business world, managers need better training


The role of managers in the American workplace has shifted dramatically. Gone are the days that managers watch over employees, assessing their every move and correcting every mistake. Today’s manager has to do more to meet the needs and expectations of a talented, independent workforce.

They must serve as coach and mentor, be accessible and remain communicative. Their responsibilities are larger than assuring the work is performed; they have to ensure that workers are content as well. The level of responsibility and accountability placed on managers is greater today than it has ever been.

But for most, the level of training provided to managers hasn’t kept pace with their changing responsibilities. The expectation has been that they will hit the ground running with all the communication, coaching and supervisory skills needed — but that’s proving to be untrue.

What do employees think?

A survey by Ultimate Software and The Center for Generational Kinetics found the number one driver of satisfaction in the workforce is the employee-manager relationship, yet 80% of employees said they could do their job without their manager. The survey also highlights the differences between the perception and experience of managers and staff:


  • 80% of managers think they’re transparent with direct reports; but,
  • Only 55% of employees agree.


  • 75% of employees say approachability is the most important quality in an effective manager; and,
  • 50% of employees say they have an approachable manager.


  • 71% of managers say they know how to motivate their team; but,
  • Only 44% of employees agree.


  • 45% of managers report they have never received formal management training.

Many companies provide initial training to new managers, but as the scope of their work and relationships grow, so does their need.

“I think a lot of organizations invest in training for new hires, providing the basics — enough to get employees started in their roles — but then never really follow up from there,” Adam Rogers, Ultimate Software’s chief technology officer, said. “We’d all be better served by our employers if the focus was on continuous learning and development, rather than one-time training.”

Millennials and management

Many millennials in management roles are in a position most have never encountered before: managing workers older than them. Seasoned employees may believe younger managers lack real world experience. While the millennial manager may have more technological ability, older direct reports may hold more institutional information, leading to problems with credibility and trust. These roadblocks can make it even more challenging to excel in the management role.

The flip side is managing millennials, who have a different set of priorities in the workplace. In a survey of this large and diverse generation, 72% said they want to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% want their boss to serve as a coach and mentor. Comprising 75% of the world’s workforce by 2025, meeting the needs of this generation will be necessary to keep businesses productive.


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