Managers Influence Culture

Managers influence culture

Managers influence culture, engagement, and retention

Hey you, people manager. Guess what? Managers influence culture. Yeah. Demonstrating your organization’s culture, engaging employees, and encouraging them to remain (and rewarding them for doing so) are part of your unwritten job description.

Why do those roles fall to you? Because most companies don’t have anyone with the title of chief culture officer or head of employee engagement. While companies try to set values, principles, and desired behaviors at the corporate level, you, as the manager, have to ensure employees know and live by them.

Great, right? Because you don’t have enough to do. Gone are the days when you only did one thing as a manager: manage. The term working managers has come to mean that on top of managing a team, you have to be hands-on in the work your team does. What else has been long gone? Having dedicated administrative support to help with the flow of inputs you have to juggle.

You already know your role is vital

Your role as manager is not about to be replaced by artificial intelligence. Your role in truly managing – coaching, advocating, teaching and correcting – is vital to your team’s and organization’s success. Per Gallup, managers influence team engagement and performance more than any other factor. That’s not an exaggeration: 70% of the variance in team engagement is determined solely by the manager. Moreover, research shows that 70% of employees say their manager has more impact on their mental health than their therapist or their doctor—and it’s equal to the impact of their partner.

You’ve likely heard it said: Employees don’t leave bad jobs; they leave bad bosses. A 2019 leadership consulting firm DDI survey showed that more than half of employees quit their jobs because of their bosses. The same survey showed an additional 32% have seriously considered leaving because of their manager. As my colleague Charles Chesnut wrote in his February 2023 blog, “At work, your manager is the single most important factor in creating your environment.”

Retaining employees is more important than ever. Despite recent news reports of the tech industry laying off tens of thousands of employees, the U.S. is seeing unemployment at lows not seen in 50 years. While we may have grown tired of hearing about the Great Resignation, the volume of job openings will continue to drive employees to seek an environment that better matches their interests, values and goals.

Good managers create good culture

Culture is an essential aspect of any organization. It is the shared values, beliefs and norms that guide the behaviors and decisions of employees. Culture is created and maintained by the people within an organization, and managers are responsible for ensuring that the culture is healthy and positive. In essence, it’s “how we do things around here.”

Whether you realize it or not, you set and live out a healthy culture, establishing the tone, norms and expectations for your employees. It’s probably time to see if your management style matches your or your organization’s values. For example, if your organization has a culture of collaboration and teamwork, are you rewarding those behaviors, such as sharing information and working together? On the other hand, if your organization has a culture of individualism and competition, are you rewarding behaviors such as focusing on personal achievements and being a top performer? Bottom line: as a manager, you must provide regular feedback to your employees on how they represent the ideal behaviors.

How do you know if you’re contributing to culture and engagement?

As a manager, you may get reports on your team’s perceptions of various elements of culture and engagement as part of your organization’s annual employee engagement survey. But that survey may not go far enough.

Years ago, Google instituted an annual survey of managers (and readily provided the survey questions externally), placing a high value on gauging its leadership team. But, you don’t need to wait for your organization to institute such a survey. Simply look at the questions Google asks and rate yourself. Here are a few examples:

  • Would your employees recommend you to other employees?
  • Do you regularly provide actionable feedback?
  • Do you regularly share relevant information from your manager and senior leadership?
  • Do your actions show that you value the perspective employees bring to the team, even if it differs from yours?
Speak up with your own manager

Employers don’t use managers well enough. Senior leaders often classify managers as the frozen middle, resistant to change, as any change may require more work. In reality, that is an outdated mindset. Moreover, a growing number of managers are getting laid off, docked pay, or demoted. Both of these contribute to the increasing work that remaining managers face.

Yet, our research with The Harris Poll showed that managers like you are much more likely to have a positive outlook for your career, company prospects, and clarity around stated values than non-managers. You clearly are a critical communication channel, and your employees are counting on you to be one. For example, there is a 26 point difference comparing managers (76%) and non-managers (50%) rating this question: “My organization enables or encourages me to grow my career at the organization.” Likewise, there is a 19 point difference comparing managers (74%) and non-managers (55%) rating the question: “My organization reflects my values.”

Integral can help you do this

As a manager, you have a huge impact on improving your culture and communications. Integral can help. We have expertise in employee communications and engagement and a specialty practice area in manager communications.

Let’s talk.