UNLEASH America Speaker Ben Eubanks: Equip line managers to fulfill employee potential
UNLEASH America speaker Ben Eubanks of Lighthouse Research puts the power of engagement with your direct reports.
Why You Should Care
Line managers and direct reports hold the keys to employee satisfaction, engagement and therefore productivity.
Equip them and empower them and you'll see the results, says UNLEASH America speaker Ben Eubanks.
Ahead of his session at this year’s show, Ben Eubanks of Lighthouse Research tells UNLEASH about the trends coming from their recent research into the workplace. We join the conversation as Eubanks discusses the data gathering process.
With just over two months to go, don’t wait to get your tickets for UNLEASH America 2023.
Ben Eubanks: We do a ton of data gathering from the workforce, what they need from employers, what they’re looking for with candidates or how they’re making decisions, all that kind of stuff, as well as on the employer side.
So, a lot on the learning side, on the recruiting side, on how we’re engaging and supporting our workforce. For me, it’s a ton of fun to be able to understand what’s next, what’s new when it comes to the data, and then share those things back with employers so they can make their next decisions.
Jon Kennard: We might come onto what’s next in a second, but tell us what you can about what you’re going to be focusing on at the event.
BE: The big focus is going to be around how we can enable managers to be key players in employees’ experience overall at work. In many cases, we hear from the managers themselves that they don’t feel like they have the right tools, the right training, the right technology at their fingertips to be able to lead their teams well, and so I’ll talk about some of those ways we can enable and support them to be the great impact they want to be.
There’s not a manager that wakes up today that says, ‘you know what, I hope I suck at this’. That doesn’t happen. And yet for many of them, that’s what [it] ends up looking like from the outside because they’re not ready, they’re not equipped. And so I’m going to focus on some of those kinds of things we can do practically.
JK: That’s interesting, because it’s something that we’re hearing quite a lot of isn’t it, in the last couple of years when we’ve gone through, and we’ve gone through so much change. And you mentioned earlier; what’s next, based on the data that you’re getting? What are the challenges for people, managers and other people working in the HR space.
BE: Goodness! Doing a lot of writing, a lot of talking about that right now. One of the key things we’re seeing – to tie back to this conversation – is we’re looking at employers that have a strategic learning function; those companies who are very forward thinking, who are leaning into what’s next when it comes to developing our people.
Those companies are 72% more likely to say that developing their people leaders isn’t just a goal in itself, but is a goal for contributing to better workplace mental health. And so I’m looking at this intersection between D,E&I and mental health and good managers, and what that means for all these kinds of things. And we’re seeing employers that are looking at those pieces, how they intersect and how they play together instead of looking at them as very separate, siloed sorts of things [as they were] in the past.
I had a great chance recently to interview an amazing leader at Accenture, and she was talking about this thing they do called ‘manager circles’, where they get these managers together, who are new, a cohort of leaders who have just stepped into that role. And if anyone reading has ever done that, that’s a tough thing to do. It’s feels lonely. It feels like, ‘I can’t tell my boss I don’t know what I’m doing, because they hired me for this job…they think I know what I’m doing’, and so it feels weird to be on the outside of that, and they create these manager circles where they can come together, they can talk together, they can say, hey, here’s what I’m experiencing, you’re seeing that my employee did this. How do YOU respond?
And then you get to share in an open safe space and get input and ideas from each other on how to tackle that – those ideas are very practical and tangible and can help us in how to support these leaders. Not just now, but in the future as well.
JK: Thanks, Ben. I’m going to try to get into the practical space here. We’re entering what might be an economic downturn globally. I know certain countries are unfortunately slightly more ahead on this. But as we enter what could be a recession for a lot of countries, have you got any advice to future-proof people’s strategies for the workforce, or any way to navigate through this? I think it’s quite a tough question, but I’m wondering if you’ve got any advice.
BE: It is, and I may sound like a broken record, but I’m gonna come back to the fact that we look at the workforce and 70% of any individual person satisfaction in their job is dependent on their direct leader, how they interact with them (or don’t), how they support them – or don’t.
And so really making sure we’re enabling these managers, because they’re the ones who are going to have to bear the brunt of this iff they have to tell someone, ‘hey, you’re not on our team anymore’; They’re the one who are going to have to deal with everybody else who’s left behind who has those weird feelings of ‘I’m thankful, but I’m also guilty, and I’m not sure how I feel about this’.
And those managers are going to be the tip of the spear when it comes to those conversations around really enabling supporting people. So I would say this thing we’re talking about already, about how to help them feel more equipped and capable still ties into that conversation, regardless of whether things turn south or not.
But it’s still gonna be a long term play here and we’re not playing just for next week or next month. We’re playing for the long term with this.
JK: Really appreciate your time today Ben, and looking forward to meeting you in Las Vegas very soon.
BE: Thank you. Can’t wait, Jon.
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Jon has 20 years' experience in digital journalism and more than a decade in L&D and HR publishing.