“There is this emotional element of empathy and a rational element of navigation that have to come together. You can’t do that effectively if the first thing a supervisor has to do Monday morning is three days of code writing,” Davenport says.
“So, the investment is less production from managers. The ROI for the hospital is lower manager and employee turnover, higher productivity, and higher engagement.”
For too long organizations have relied on player-coach models, Davenport says. “They think, ‘I can combine that production and leadership.’ But even for the people who are talented enough to do it, you have constructed a job where they can’t do both well.”
Fortunately, organizational attitudes are evolving. Executives across the business spectrum are starting to understand the importance of those immediate supervisors in sustained workforce retention, development, and productivity.
“We are just coming out the era of executive leader worship – that ‘if we just had Jack Welch or Steve Jobs at the top of the organization, then we will have an engaging vision, a direction, and people will come to work ready to work toward that,’” Davenport says.
Executive leader worship leads HR to prioritize things such as succession planning. “They’re thinking ‘I can find the next Jack Welch, or I can deal with the 500 middle managers that are not performing very well. Which seems easier? Well, the managers seem intractable. I’ll deal with succession planning,’” Davenport says.