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5 Strategies to Hold People Managers Accountable

employee engagement employee listening people manager strategy people ops problems
5 Strategies to Hold People Managers Accountable - LeAnne Lagasse

Welcome to People Ops Problems with LeAnne Lagasse, a bi-weekly video series designed to help Business and People/Culture Leaders improve employee engagement, retention, and communication with their employees. Sign up now to get it in your inbox.

Leaders, HR professionals and business owners all have a vested interest in the success of team members–but they don’t have the biggest stake.


According to the Gallup Organization, the people manager accounts for 70% of team member engagement.

Do’s & Don’ts

It’s crucial that professional environments are created where people managers are contributing to the thriving and flourishing of employees.

People managers should not be:

  • Behaving in problematic ways
  • Contributing to unproductiveness in the workplace
  • Acting in toxic ways
  • Abusing employees

Strategies for Building People Manager Accountability

Identifying toxic management practices is critical to being able to work with people managers behind the scenes to ensure that toxic practices are not continued in their people management role.

1. Define Your People Management Values–Most organizations spend a lot of time thinking about their vision, mission and core values–which are very important. However, organizations should also select people management values, such as what outcomes are desired when leading those who work for the organization. Having those values defined sets an organization up for success in holding people managers accountable for their behavior, provides a compass for training people managers and sets a good foundation for additional people manager accountability strategies.

Leadership teams should think about:

  • How does our mission statement apply to people management roles?
  • What does success look like?
  • What values does our organization stand for as leaders?

2. Train & Equip People Managers–So many organizations get this wrong by having unwritten expectations for people managers of outcomes. Good organizations should seek to create coaching and development opportunities for people managers to gain the skills and knowledge they need to be successful as people managers. Anyone managing people has to be equipped with the tools and training to understand what specific behaviors drive the desired and expected outcomes.

3. Train Employees on Healthy & Toxic Leadership–All employees need training on being able to spot healthy leadership and toxic leadership qualities, especially young, brand-new employees. Giving all employees a picture of what normal leadership looks like, what red flags to watch out for, etc., creates a culture of accountability for potentially problematic people managers. Think of it as a vaccine for toxic leadership patterns–you’re stopping them before they even start.

It’s tempting for organizations to invest in training people managers about healthy and toxic leadership, but people managers aren’t always held accountable for that training. Yes, even in your organization, people managers can slip through the cracks!

Training all employees on patterns to watch for sends the message that organizational leaders value the employee experience and toxic management practices will not be tolerated. Employees should also be empowered to speak up if they spot any toxic management patterns within the organization.

3. Develop a Continuous Listening Strategy–Embedding listening opportunities throughout the employee lifecycle is a process that’s time consuming, but the payoff is worth it.

A great strategy is taking regular listening opportunities to gauge the pulse of behaviors amongst people managers and employees. Regularly listening to employees provides opportunities for communication to flow upward within the organization to quickly identify red flags within teams.

Some easy ways to create listening opportunities are:

  • Requiring performance management rhythms with people managers to gain feedback about their individual performance from the employees they manage
  • Creating upward reviews as part of the performance review process

5. Tie Employee Engagement Metrics to Managerial Performance Reviews/Bonuses–This strategy won’t work for every organization or people manager, but it does send a strong message to people managers and employees that how people managers lead their teams matters.

This strategy is not ideal for people managers that oversee employee groups with traditionally high turnover, but is better suited for people managers with stable teams.

Bonuses, rewards or incentives for people managers should be creatively executed when employees are feeling engaged, inspired and empowered.

Creating professional environments where people managers are contributing to the thriving and flourishing of employees should be the goal of every organization, no matter how large or small.

Hey, thanks for being here and for watching/reading. My goal is to consistently create content that's engaging, applicable, and inspires you to continue learning and growing as a leader. If you have ideas for future content or any questions at all, please shoot me an email at: [email protected].

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