People are the key to your business’s success. It’s as simple as that. However, you must have a way to manage those people, to direct and guide them. Your managers and team leaders are, therefore, some of the most critical individuals. Sadly, most managers are ineffective or not trusted by their teams to lead them correctly.
Manager development is essential to overcoming those hurdles. What should you know, though? We’ll explore that and more in this post.
The Situation as It Stands
First, let’s come to grips with the situation we have right now. Managers are vital, but many employees don’t trust their leadership. Many feel that they can do their jobs without managers in the first place. Quite a few feel like they could do their manager’s job better than the manager themselves.
It’s a sad situation, but it is not one that cannot be changed. With the right training and development steps, you can reverse the paradigm. It is possible to develop managers who are also good leaders, who inspire loyalty, and who foster trust with their teams.
Perhaps the single most critical skill for managers to master is communication. However, your leaders must understand the role of communication in modern businesses. In the past, a top-down, one-way flow of information was considered “communication”. Today, not so much.
Remember that it’s not just businesses that are evolving. The makeup of your workforce is also changing, and that shift is accelerating. Baby Boomers have largely left the workforce today, although some remain. Gen Xers are now the older workers. Millennials are set to become the single largest generation in the workplace within the next few years.
What does this mean? Simply put, your organization needs to keep up with this sea change. As new generations replace old ones, their needs and expectations need to be considered. Where Baby Boomers might have been content with being told what to do, Millennials expect to be involved in business processes in a much more integral way.
Communication is the key to meeting these new needs. Leaders must be willing and able to sit down and check-in with workers regularly. This is part and parcel of the shift away from annual performance reviews and toward regular, informal check-ins held quarterly or monthly.
It’s all part of creating a continuous conversation with information flowing both ways. Managers should be able to deliver information to employees, but those same employees must be empowered to provide feedback. That feedback can and should include a wide range of information types, including:
- Feedback on manager performance
- Feedback on employee trust in management
- Feedback on employee-perceived ways to improve processes
Simply put, if your managers cannot communicate effectively with employees and are unwilling to listen to and adopt feedback from their teams, they’re going to fail. Make sure that your managers receive training in effective communication, and that you monitor their progress.
When we think of performance tracking, most of us picture monitoring the performance of the rank and file. While that might have once been “the way things were,” it’s no longer the case. Today, you need to track the performance of your management team over time.
Doing so allows you to pinpoint specific things, such as:
- Innate leadership talent
- Skills that can be improved and honed through additional training
- Problem areas that need to be addressed immediately
Training for Managers
Management training programs are nothing new. Chances are good that you’ve invested in multiple options for your managers over time. However, what is new is the need for modern training that speaks to the seismic shift in workplace composition, as well as the change in how management is expected to behave. Management training should include modules on the following:
- Establishing and maintaining communication with team members
- How to create and maintain check-ins and conversations for employee development
- How to identify and build employee strengths
- Tools and techniques for fostering a positive business culture
- Guidance and support for managers as they advance their career with the company
Implementing a Performance Management System
A performance management system can deliver critical capabilities for HR, but also your management development goals. However, many systems fall short. It has become critical that you find a holistic performance management system that helps you avoid creating gaps that weaken the system.
The Shift toward Continuous Performance Management
In the past, performance management was done piecemeal. That’s no longer possible. You must ensure that your managers are on board with the need for continuous performance management. That is, the process is never “done” – it’s a series of ongoing touchpoints and guidance opportunities that help employees (and managers) alter course in real-time when necessary, effect meaningful change, and achieve better (measurable) results.
Support to Become Their Best Self
Finally, managers need support and help in becoming their best selves, just as other team members do. Practices that help improve self-awareness can help ensure that managers are motivated, but also that they have the positive outlook necessary to encourage employees to perform better and reach KPIs.
Manager training and support should also include techniques that improve emotional intelligence, that allow them to self-manage and help them identify harmful or damaging behaviors they unconsciously engage in that could be demoralizing or destructive when it comes to manager-employee relationships and trust in the workplace.
Investing in Your Managers
For business owners, execs, and other decision-makers, it’s essential to invest in your managers. A modern performance management system, the right support and guidance, and the willingness to help them become their best self, both professionally and personally, can deliver significant advantages. From fostering a better company culture to helping ensure that employees see their managers as vital to their own success, investing in manager development delivers critical capabilities and should be at the top of your priority list.