Employees form the foundation of your organization. Without them, it’s impossible to do what you do. However, the individuals with the largest impact on employee experience and their ability to learn, grow, develop, and thrive, are your managers. In our new normal, managers find themselves faced with a range of new challenges that can be incredibly daunting. As a leader, it is your responsibility to support managers in this often confusing, topsy-turvy world. How, though?
Help Them Become Coaches
One of the first things to do is help them break out of the managerial mindset. Yes, this can sound confusing. Aren’t they supposed to be managers? Why change their mindset, then?
The differences between a coaching mindset and a managerial mindset are pretty drastic. Managers see employees as resources to be allocated, managed, and optimized. Coaches see employees as team members to be developed, taught, and assisted.
In a way, developing that base managerial mindset is an inescapable consequence of the standard in-house promotion format. You identify top-performers who have great technical or critical skills. They’re able to maximize value in many ways while optimizing outputs and boosting ROI. That sounds great! Put them in a position where those abilities can help the team.
The problem is that these skills do not necessarily translate into an ability to lead people. To be successful in leading others, managers must develop soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, compassion, and empathy. They must become more introspective, able to know themselves, and thereby help employees develop better.
Throughout the rollercoaster that 2020 was, managers have been urged to communicate often and directly with their teams. However, there has not been the same onus on communication from higher-ups to managers. This can leave the lynchpins of success without the support they need.
Business leaders must take a cue from the best practices for managers – open, frequent communication. However, this cannot simply be a one-way flow of information from you to them. It’s crucial that you go about communicating in the correct way so that you can foster understanding and provide help and support where necessary. How do you do that?
- Ask: Come right out and ask your managers how they’re doing. Do they need help? Do they have the resources they need to support themselves AND their teams? What can you, the business leader, do to make their jobs easier?
- Keep It Brief: Resist the urge to have drawn-out conversations with your managers. Realize that they’re already limited by the need to communicate with their teams. If it’s not essential or designed to provide additional support to them, find another time to communicate it.
- Use Video: Memos, text, digital chat – they’re all handy tools, but video is the single best way to communicate with remote managers and ensure that your message is crystal clear.
Give Them the Tools They Need
No one can do their job without the right tools, and that applies to your managers. Make sure they have the tools and systems required to manage their teams and develop their people. Understanding the types of tools needed can be pretty challenging. After all, it’s not like they need hammers or screwdrivers. So, what sort of tools?
The most important tool to ensure your managers have access to is a performance management system (PMS). A modern, cloud-based PMS offers access to critical solutions for building performance, managing employees, and more, including support for frequent check-ins, one-on-one meetings, objective tracking, and more. It will also provide managers with the means to reflect on an employee’s full performance track, rather than just recent events, which gives managers a much better picture of overall performance and success and ensures fairer evaluations and more accurate decisions.
Focus on Strengths-Based Systems
Who do you think performs best – someone who takes on a role because it comes with a bigger paycheck or someone who is passionate about the role and its associated responsibilities? Obviously, it would be the latter. A strengths-based system offers the opportunity to connect people with positions that are best suited for them.
As a business leader, you can help managers to implement such a system. It begins by helping managers to assess their own strengths and then map those to responsibilities and duties within their role as a coach. This practice helps hone their skills and abilities, allowing them to do the same thing for their team members.
Ultimately, a strengths-based system offers several benefits, including:
- Better quality work, as employees (and managers), are more deeply engaged with what they are doing within the organization
- Better talent retention both immediately and over time as employees and managers feel that they are integral to the company
- Better performance at all levels as employees and managers are more vested in positive outcomes at all times
- Improved motivation because employees are encouraged to do their best work on something that connects with them at a deeper level
- Reduced churn and less onboarding stress as employees are encouraged to develop professional skills and organically move up within the organization
Help Them Adapt
If there is one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that things change. Nothing remains the same for long. Adaptability is a critical skill for managers, and as a leader, you can help them develop that ability.
Manager training that focuses on helping them change their thought processes, embrace change, and be more open-minded will help them become more adaptable. They will also help them develop new skills and capabilities to guide and develop employees.
We’re All in This Together
While we’re all sick of seeing that particular message, the truth within it cannot be erased. We are all in this together. Business leaders have a critical role to play in manager development so that managers can become coaches and help improve employee performance, engagement, and retention over time. We must all pull together to create thriving organizations.