People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers: Australian managers rate themselves top of class

With management style and leadership skills integral to building strong workplace cultures, new research by Robert Half finds the majority (81%) of Australian leaders rate their management skills between 8-10, where 10 is excellent.

Sydney, 08 June 2022 – As the shift to hybrid working creates increasingly decentralised teams, managers are faced with the challenge of maintaining a strong organisational culture that drives motivation and engagement. With management style and leadership skills integral to building strong workplace cultures, new independent research by specialised recruiter Robert Half finds that the majority (81%) of Australian leaders rate their management skills between 8-10, where 10 is excellent. Almost three in 10 (29%) rate themselves 9, while the same proportion (29%) give themselves the top mark of 10. Just 8% of respondents rank themselves a 6 or under, highlighting the high degree of self-confidence of Australian managers.

Areas for improvement

Despite the overwhelming positive appraisal of their management style, Australian leaders have identified some areas for improvement including driving motivation and engagement (42%), managing conflict and delivering bad news (42%), and supporting employee wellbeing (42%). These management skills identified as areas of improvement by more than two in five leaders all have the potential to shape company culture, indicating the continuous need for managers to prioritise them.       

Leadership training and education

Recognising that leadership is a learned rather than innate skill, Australian businesses are investing in management training programs in order to build a strong pipeline of managers and leaders throughout the organisation. One in two (49%) Australian leaders are offered opportunities to improve their management and leadership skills on a regular basis. More than four in 10 (44%) are offered training on an occasional basis, while just 5% rarely receive training and only 2% never receive leadership training.

“In the post-pandemic market, the importance of strong and competent management is threefold:  re-establishing a sense of culture and stability amongst decentralised teams; cultivating a high-performing and productive team as organisations embark on ambitious growth initiatives; and driving change management to adapt workers to digital transformations efforts,” said Andrew Brushfield, Director Robert Half Australia in announcing Robert Half’s latest survey results.

“Australia’s tight labour market has created more opportunities for workers to fast track their progression into management or leadership roles – even with management skills that may have been considered ‘under-developed’ prior to the pandemic. This – coupled with the heightened strategic role management has taken on in the post-pandemic market - has put an increased emphasis on how employers are delivering internal leadership training opportunities. Equipping leaders to identify and tackle emerging trends, guiding agile decision making in uncertain situations, and structured people management expertise are essential skills in today’s market.”

It is often said that employees don’t leave jobs, they leave managers, and as the war for talent shows no signs of calming down, excellent management is a valuable retention lever. Creating a positive employee experience not only contributes to motivation and engagement but acts as a barrier to employee turnover. Managers can play an active role in this by focusing on career planning and professional development for members of their team, encouraging a culture of recognition and appreciation, prioritising collaboration and positive relationships amongst employees regardless of their location, and supporting work-life balance and flexibility.” concluded Brushfield.     

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Notes to editors 

About the research 

The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted online in November – December 2021 by an independent research company, surveying 300 hiring managers, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs, from companies across Australia. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management, and trends in the workplace.   

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