In our work, we audit any new company we work with and have observed that a common theme in many is that managers don’t appear to want to manage.
By that we mean managing people. Setting standards on performance and monitoring them, holding employees to account, identifying what behaviours are needed to create the right culture to grow the business and being confrontational if and when it is necessary. Or they are only embracing the nicer side of management. Giving out pay rises and promotions etc
Managers and leaders seldom avoid this type of work for any other reason than they don’t know how to do it and are worried about getting it wrong. Often employees pick up on a fear and become experts on how to make the most of this which is rarely beneficial for the manager or the company. Equally managers aren’t set any targets or held to account about whether they do it (well) or not. So they will naturally focus on what is valued.
As we are all aware, being good at a technical or specialist role can often lead to promotion into a completely different type of role. Leading and managing a team is so much more than being the most senior member of it with the biggest say. The person that earns the most does so because they also have significant people management responsibilities and are accountable for their team as well as business area. Rarely is this properly explained. During recruitment or promotion discussions. Usually the elephant in the room and therefore often misunderstood.
No training or guidance for managers
Here are some of the things that managers have often had no training or guidance on whatsoever:
- A core understanding of management theory and what is relevant to their company and industry
- How to delegate and communicate effectively
- An understanding of their obligations and duty of care under employment and health and safety legislation
- How to turn key organisational KPI’s into objectives or targets for staff
- The difference between technical and behavioural competence
- How to understand and harness the power of personality
- How to select staff – interview competentantly, understand and recognise unconscious bias and discrimination. Understand the equality act.
- Motivational techniques and team building
It stands to reason that if you don’t know how to do something you may avoid it or try and get someone else to do it. Particularly if you fear negative consequences for yourself. Or if you observe that no-one else is tackling similar issues.
Revolving door culture
But as many will be aware, not doing something often has a bigger impact on your culture than doing something, even if it’s not perfect. Not tackling people management issues will build up over time until you start to observe that your good people are leaving. You will replace them of course. At considerable time and expense. And then your fanastic new hire might leave before their probabtion period is up and you start to wonder if it’s something in the business.
The truth is that it’s your culture. How you do things. What you avoid or ignore.
But you can address the fear and reluctance of maangers with some targeted management development training. A core part of that should be an assessment of whether you have the right poepe in lead roles. Often you will have and they just need devellping. But some people don’t make or want to manage people. No matter how much you spend on core Leadership programmes. However they may be suited to a different specialist role? Or have a No 2 that is interested?
What provider to pick?
There are plenty of companies around who specialise in leadership and management development training. Many long established and many newer ones coming through.
Talking to CEO’s about their previous experiences of such engagement they often report that many staff enjoy attending such initiaitves but they rarely had a long lasting effect as they often didn’t address the following issues:
- Who held managerial posts
- What their remit was v what they did
- Whether the corporate structure was correct
- What the culture was (desirable v actual)
- How they would be managed post the intervention
It was hard therefore to quantify any return on the investment made often because the desired outcome hadn’t been pinned down or properly understood.
At Amelore, supporting organisations to develop managers has become a growing area for us. We usually work with companies that are already established and performing well but who want to develop their management team and culture to create space for a senior team to focus on the strategy. Often they don’t have an HR Director in their business.
Our work as external HR professionals can involve us recruiting new managers and coaching key individuals along side regular internal workshops. We can honestly say that every company has different needs and consequently different programmes.
What we bring is our insight into how to make companies work better which we’ve gained over many years. And our HR expertise. And just like Mary Poppins, we stay as long as we are needed. Ultimately our aim is to leave that company in a good place to grow, compete and innovate. To give it competitive advantage because it works as well on the inside as the outside.