We Get Real AF

Ep 87: Profesh Sesh: Managers - Here's Why & How to Advocate for your Employees

August 19, 2021 Vanessa Alava & Sue Robinson Season 2 Episode 87
We Get Real AF
Ep 87: Profesh Sesh: Managers - Here's Why & How to Advocate for your Employees
Show Notes Transcript

Sue, Vanessa and Alisa talk about the importance of managers supporting their teams, how it impacts retention, and how to do it right.

Find Alisa Walters Online:


We Get Real AF Podcast Credits:

Producers & Hosts: Vanessa Alava & Sue Robinson

Vanessa Alava

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Sue Robinson

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Audio Producer/Editor: Sam Mclean  

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Technical Director: Mitchell Machado


Audio Music Track Title: Beatles Unite

Artist: Rachel K. Collier

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Intro Voice-Over Artist: Veronica Horta


Cover Artwork Photo Credit: Alice Moore 


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Vanessa Alava  0:07  

All right, we're back with our recruiter talent specialist Alisa Walters to talk about managers advocating for their employees and the importance of having that support. Elisa would love to hear your insights on this one.

Alisa Walters  0:22  

Yeah, we've we've all had that one Boss, I think that you know it, I think that it's important to recognize that so many people in these conversations that we're talking about why people leave a job, that leadership, their management is a big reason why they stay or they leave. And it's interesting that in some personal experience, an older team that I was on, the leader of our team has had left the company. And there has been this huge exodus of people who followed her to her new company. And it was because of this amazing leadership, that she is she she, she led with empathy. And she listened and she advocated for the team. And, and that's among many other things that are shifting and changing and in the previous company, but I think it's important to recognize that people stay for the people that they work with, and their boss, and they want to feel that they are respected, listened to, and that they have somebody advocating for them in that leadership position. So advocating for a team. And as a manager, it can be a huge balancing act, right. But it's something that needs to be done. It's so important. If you want to increase turnover, then don't advocate for your team. But that employee relationship with their manager is going to be one of the top drivers for better employee employee engagement, and retention overall.

Sue Robinson  2:03  

So Alisa what does that look like if a manager is listening to the show, what are some very tangible pragmatic things that a manager can do to know that they are hearing from their employees and that they are listening and they do have a good read on the state of affairs with their team?

Alisa  2:21  

Yeah, and I think that goes back to a really great conversation we had on another episode about effective communication. And being assertive, it goes back to effective listening, listen to your direct reports, their concerns come up with solutions, having weekly check ins is so important to foster that relationship between the manager and their employee. So that there's that constant open line of communication, where if there are concerns, concerns can be addressed. And then they can work together to come up with a solution. And also, if it requires taking additional action, they can take action on their behalf. And it's it in the long run. From an employee standpoint, it's a confidence booster, they feel that their managers have their back and they want to be they want to work better and are more motivated to do their job when they feel that they have that that support.

Vanessa Alava  3:26  

Alisa, can you speak to the manager's point of view, I mean, I've worked in situations where I've had a great direct report, but their direct report has not been the best advocate for the manager. So a lot of times you have a manager that reports into someone else, and that person reports to someone else. So can you speak to that regard

Alisa  3:57  

Yeah, that's, that's a good one, because it again, goes back to people follow good managers and stay for good managers. And I think that you sometimes don't realize how much a manager shields you from until they're not in that position. So it might be that you in that situation where you're feel like you're stuck between a rock and a hard place, you want to advocate for your team, but you're getting pushed back, you may want to find yourself having those conversations of, you know, those assertive conversations around. Why why that person might be the way that they are, why that person maybe doesn't recognize that these are things that are needed to be done to to retain the team. It might be an education for that person, they may just not know what's going on, because they're so far for removed.

Sue Robinson  6:14  

I think, you know, we've spoken before about the importance of documenting things and being specific. And maybe that's another tool that could be useful in this type of situation is to be really concrete and specific. And then record the conversations that were had in some form or fashion, just so that there's there's great clarity for all parties concerned about what's being discussed and what's being done or not done about it. 

Unknown Speaker  6:38  

Yes, document everything. And I love that you brought up clarity, it's getting clear as to why things are happening the way that they are, and have a better understanding and get clear of what's happening so that you can come with that solution. But yes, absolutely document everything and be specific. And if you feel that things are still continuing the way that they are, and resolution isn't happening, then you have to figure out who you have to escalate it to who you're who you're copying on that email. I you know, I hate to say it, but sometimes that has to be done when you're documenting things.

Vanessa Alava  7:20  

Absolutely. And I just want to say, anyone that's in the capacity of whether that's business ownership, or executive leadership team, checking in is so important, and really knowing what's going on in those departments. Because your people are a make your company, and all of the things that we've touched on, you know, morale, and effective communication, all those things. The one at the very, very top might think that everything's running smoothly. And it's not until later that they're like, wait, what's what's going on? Something takes them by surprise. So it's really no matter what happens in your business, being in touch, like really staying in touch with those different departments and, and asking questions and, and listening, and taking time to really get to know people, apart from the people that are reporting into you, just to make sure that everything is running as smoothly as you think they are.

Sue Robinson  8:44  

Don’t save it for the review. Right. I mean, it's to have those ongoing conversations. I think that's really important. So people feel safe, and like they can always come to you. Mm hmm.

Alisa  8:53  

It is an ongoing conversation for sure. I once had a manager who we had an agenda every week that we would, we would have things that we were going over. So every week it was a Hey, I don't see anything on the agenda. You know, is there anything that you you want to you want to add ahead of our meeting. And it was almost as if it was if it was homework for each meeting that we were having. And we were discussing things and being coached through difficult conversations and difficult situations that were coming up. And for any managers out there and for me personally, this was something that I learned this was really a valuable tool, and we could always look back and see. Okay, let's look back to see if there was something that we we had discussed that might be outstanding does further action need to be taken. So again, to Sue's point about documenting everything, that's a great way To hold accountability, both from the managers perspective as well as the employees perspective. And I love the idea of having conversations that are ongoing, to keep things to make sure that this it's not something that is it was mentioned once, and then it's never to be talked about, again, I think keeping that that squeaky wheel right? Be that squeaky wheel if it's going to advocate for change. And then I think from a manager's perspective, I have worked in organizations where you get to a certain level and you know, the the broader leadership is not available, they're too busy. But I think as an effective leader, making yourself available for those conversations, I think is really important. Because you may learn something that you're that you may not be learning from one of your direct reports. So I think it's really important to, to be accessible as a leader.

Sue Robinson  11:13  

It's relationship capital, right? Like, if you are a higher up later, and you're interested, and you want to know and you stay in touch with your subordinates, you're going to build that trust in advance of a potential problem coming up, and they're going to feel safe coming to you and either, you know, expressing something that they're dealing with, or, or even letting you know, if some trouble that they might see brewing or some changes they might see needing to come around before it becomes an issue. And I think that's really important. It's all relationship capital.

Vanessa Alava  11:45  

Absolutely. And, and being prepared to, to find things that may not be to your liking. But see those as opportunities, see those as opportunities to grow and to make things better within your organization. it's an opportunity area for you to discuss, like, what the issue is your perspective and in the feedback you're getting from people within that person's team in a way that you're not throwing those person under the bus or making them feel inadequate, but saying, hey, something here needs to change, because the whole team feels this way. You know, and and we need to make a change in order to grow as a company and for that department to thrive. So yeah, I think staying in touch as as you know, as high up as it goes within the chain of command or, you know, senior level, leadership is really important. It's important for morale, it trickles all the way down to the employee starts at the top. 


I think it's also important to recognize that no matter how much you grow within an organization and within your your profession, that you are still always a student. And there is always an opportunity to learn from the people around you who are doing the work, that they're seeing your vision come to light. And I think it's important to recognize that as no matter how big you go, you can always learn something from somebody.

Sue Robinson  13:51  

Absolutely. And you know, as you say that at least I'm thinking about, like people who get really high up in an organization. I think part of the reason that they can lose touch with their subordinates isn't necessarily because they want to or they don't care, but it's just that they, by that point, have so many other things on their plate, they may be traveling a lot. Do you have advice for systems or structures or people to put in place that will make it easier for somebody in that very, very busy role? To kind of hear the feedback and to stay in touch? I mean, what are some things that that somebody like that can do who wants to be involved? But you know, they've got realistically, they're managing the whole division, or a whole geographic region?

Alisa  14:33  

Yeah, absolutely. And a great call out. I think that there's a couple of things. companies having mentorship programs. I think it's important that if a if a leader can carve out maybe some time once a month that they can be a mentor to somebody Junior in the company. I think that is really instrumental because having that ongoing conversation and that accountability to show up and mentor somebody more junior will lead to those conversations. I know a lot of companies may have a, it used to be a hotline or an email address where you can send, you know, suggestions or feedback, making sure that there is somebody on that HR side of things that is taking that seriously. And then the HR manager who's working with those leaders can say, you know, we're seeing a lot of this, we're seeing, you know, a lot of a lot of feedback around this, we've, we're hearing this kind of stuff from employees, and I think we need to get ahead of it, we need to have conversations around it. Also I think a lot of times employees, when they fill out a survey, and having having conversations with other colleagues of mine, it's like you may be so overwhelmed with the work that you're doing. And this survey that you're mandated to complete, maybe a box that you're checking off, and you're not really giving it the time and the consideration that it deserves. So it's important that if a company does send out a survey that you take the time to really fill it out and give your honest feedback. In a diplomatic way, of course,


if you feel that, I'm going to submit this, and if I'm too honest, it's going to come back to bite me. You know, there, there's that nuance. So you want your if you want your employees to feel that way and empowered to give honest feedback, you have to empower them to feel that way. And that's by leading by example and an action because if there's precedent out there that shows otherwise, you're not going to get that honest feedback.

Alisa  17:34  

The other thing is,an HR manager, who's kind of that referee, might have to take a look at bringing in coaches, there is a whole Exhibit A, there's a whole world of coaches out there executive leadership coaches, bringing in somebody who's going to coach, people add every single level on how to be that advocate, how to be that cheerleader, and manage your team, with with effective action and everything like that. So I would advocate to really look at resources that are available that can come in and coach these individuals on how to better be a manager. And then if if, if they are not coachable, and they're not advocating for an employee, then the question comes to them, why are they managing at all?

Sue Robinson  19:37  

And I think that having that external coach come in, which is an investment on the part of the company, but an important one because you your team to Vanessa's point, the very beginning your team is your strongest asset, right? But I think that that can help with that anonymity piece as well. you have a kind of a filter there between you and the decision makers in your company. And I think that can also foster more authentic feedback.

Vanessa Alava  20:09  

Right. And you don't want to surround yourself with people that are just gonna say how amazing you are. That does nothing for you. I mean, if you're doing great things, and they can say that very quickly and say, this is great, boom, boom, boom, these are your problem areas. Focus in on those problem areas. Because if you just have Yes, men, you know, or women just saying, yep, yep, this is all good. This is all good. And why do you want to pay somebody to tell you that you're paying somebody you want to find that problem and then fix it and have tangible things that you say yeah, we were here but look at how far we've come. it's hard to hear when you you feel you've been doing something correct and you feel like it's been going well and it hasn't been but again, opportunity area. Absolutely.

Sue Robinson  21:16  

Great conversation. Alisa, as always, thank you so much. 


Thank you.