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Managers Are the Key to Employees' Feelings of Worth

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

Friendly recruitment manager interviewing young man in office boardroom by Jacob Lund Photography from

Put the person first, and the deadline last – Azure Antoinette

How people feel, at work, is important.

We see this all the time. Their feeling of worth is reflected in their productivity and work quality. It shows in their loyalty to their company and their willingness to refer others to work there. We see it in how they show up to work and how they collaborate with team members, and how they provide support to customers. How they feel at work (in the office or working remotely) makes a difference—to them, and to their company’s bottom line.

Right now, we’re going through what might very well be the most difficult time in many of our employees’ lives. The pandemic continues to take its toll, and no one is solid on what will happen in the future. For those people who crave certainty and stability, this is a mighty tough time. Managers are in the very best position to influence how work helps or makes worse these tough times. There is no better function to take action to help people in an organization feel engaged, motivated, healthy, and supported.

If you are a manager guiding a team, your real job is to help those who report to you achieve success. I know you’re bombarded by tasks which eat up your time each day. But remember, the #1 job you have is to help those who rely on you for coaching, support, and advocacy.

That may be the actual job of a people leader, but most managers allocate very little time and effort to it. In a a 2015 poll carried out by Right Management, it was found that 68% of employees said their managers aren’t actively engaged in their career development. So, what this says to employees is companies talk a good game about learning and development, but they don’t deliver.

As mentioned, this is challenging when you have a million and one things to do every day. However, investing the time in your team is worth it. Here’s why:

  • Right now, we’re in a buyer’s market for employees. What I mean by that is we are, maybe for the first time ever (certainly the first time in my memory), in a place where companies around the globe are desperate to find qualified, talented people to work with their teams in a wide variety of roles. It’s always important to create an environment that employees will want to work in. But now, it’s crucial that managers do what they can to retain their team members.

  • Need more information on that? Right now, as many as 95% of employees in the US are considering changing jobs. Managers are in a unique position to stem the resignation tide as they are the key factor in why people stay with an organization.

  • It’s natural for employees to want to learn, grow, and advance in their careers. If their manager can help them with growth opportunities, they will do better work and stay in their jobs. Also, they become an even more valuable resource for the company.

  • Developing employees and increasing their knowledge means their managers will eventually be able to delegate more to them and, as a result, will have a bit more breathing room themselves due to a reduced task load.

Across these four bullets runs the concept of empathy. Managers now, perhaps more than ever, need to dust off their empathy and put it to use. The problem is, managers have never really been incented to be empathetic, in spite of the wealth of articles espousing the need for it.

Empathy begins with connection, and that begins with managers developing a relationship with those who report to them. Developing relationships begins with regular, frequent, and consistent one on one conversations. Hmmm… seems easy enough, but clearly, it’s not. I get pushback all the time from managers about this. I propose allocating about 30 minutes per week to spend in conversation with each report, and managers tell me they just do not have that kind of time.

I get it. We’re busy—really busy. But as those bullets above point out, this time is an investment that’s important to make. What we really need is for business to make it happen. What do I mean by that? Well, managers are also employees who need their bosses to understand they need support and development.

If you are an organizational leader, then you should be advocating for a culture of development and growth within your company. If you expect this to be carried out by your managers—and that’s a reasonable expectation given the connection they should have to employees—then you should be doing the same for your managers. Similar thoughts of looking for new opportunities will be running through their minds right about now. It’s tough to replace managers and there is a significant drop in team productivity when they leave. So, consider what they need to become better people leaders in their own rights. Investing in helping your managers become good bosses has positive effects on employee productivity and retention.

If you would like some data to back this up, here you go:

If you are a manager, talk to your boss about development opportunities you can be taking advantage of. You deserve to be invested in. There are programs out there that can help you to grow, learn, and be a better manager than you are today. Ask your boss if the company will put out some budget to bring in a trainer for the management team and invest in some coaching for application. It’s a worthwhile investment and can lead to you being a much more dialed-in people leader than you are right now.

While certainly worth it, training programs may cost a little more than the company is able to spend. If that’s the case, invest in management books and do some self-study. Encourage the other managers in your company to read the same book and have discussions around it to think through key concepts and ideas for application. Some organizations and professional associations have formed book clubs. What a great idea and great way of promoting discussion and idea sharing amongst people leaders! If what you’ve learned from reading is making a positive difference, use that information to justify bringing in the author (in-person or Zoom, depending on where we’re at) to do a talk about the book. Some authors will charge a LOT for this. However, others (like me) will be much more affordable.

Regardless of how you choose to bring learning to yourself and your team members, apply what you learn with your team and see what a positive difference it can make in both engagement and retention.


9 out of 10 managers don’t really know how to be people leaders. They need training and support.

Manager training is what I do. Check out my programs at or speak to me about customized programs for your team.

Cover image of book: It's Not Them, It's You by Laura Sukorokoff

And check out my book for a resource on how you can become a better manager.

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