70:20:10 - The Role of Managers in Development
The business case for managers playing an effective role in the development of their direct reports is clear and simple: the direct reports of managers who are most effective at development activities outperform those with ineffective managers by as much as 25-27%.
An important research survey across a number of global organisations that was carried out by the Learning & Development Roundtable (part of the Corporate Executive Board) produced results that showed that teams reporting to managers who are effective and focused on supporting their development deliver this level of performance uplift.
Another way of thinking of this is that those people who report to managers who play an effective role in development provide at least an extra day’s work each week, every week at no cost to the individuals or to the organisation. What manager or CEO would not want that?
In addition to improving performance, effective employee development produces a host of other compelling benefits; employees are more satisfied, more committed to the organisation, more likely to stay with their employers, and more adaptable to change when their managers are effective at employee development.
The data was gathered with two survey instruments that were part of the Learning and Development Roundtable’s 2003 Employee Development Survey. In total, nearly 13,500 employees and managers from 14 distinct organisations were surveyed, and completed responses were received from 6,889 of them (a 51%response rate).
Employees and managers came from a range of organisations (14), industries (six), and countries (nine). Through appropriate weighting, the final sample and subsequent analyses are not dominated by any one organisation.
Working closely with each organisation that participated in the study, a random sample of managers across each organisation was developed. For each manager included in the sample, an employee was sampled at random from the manager’s list of direct reports. Both the manager and the employee (“the matched pair”) were invited to participate in the study. About 42% or 2,773 matched pairs completed the survey.
Data was collected from more than 180 executives, 650 senior managers, 1,400 mid-level managers, and more than 2,400 first-line managers.
More than 37% of the individuals who participated in the survey as “employees” (more than 1,400 people) were managers themselves, either first-line managers or above.
Further analysis of the data showed the following:
Manager B (focused and effective at developing employees) has direct reports who are almost 40% more likely to stay with the organisation and who report almost 40% higher levels of employee satisfaction.
Manager B (focused and effective at developing employees) has direct reports that are almost 30% more committed to the organisation and 8% better at responding to change.
Relevance to 70:20:10
Line managers play an important role in 70:20:10 implementation. The ‘70’ and ‘20’ development activities rely on support and often on direction from line managers.
One of the key focus areas for 70:20:10 should be on developing managers’ capabilities to support the development of their reports. Without a reasonable bench-strength in this area a comprehensive 70:20:10 strategy will prove almost impossible.
This research goes on to show that placing greater emphasis on a few of the more powerful development activities, managers can increase the performance of their direct reports without significantly investing more time.
- Building workforce capability relies on line managers becoming successful people developers as well as process managers.
- The manager’s role in employee development impacts employees’ success, team’s success, and ultimately manager success.
- Managers who are effective at employee development will both enhance their team’s performance and deliver a number of other benefits to the organisation.
Learning and Development Roundtable. 2004. ‘Driving Results Through Employee Development: Understanding Your Role as a Manager’, Corporate Executive Board.
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