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How to train up-and-coming managers
As any business owner will tell you, the key to a productive and high performing organisation starts at the top – and that means having good leaders who inspire trust and motivation in employees.
According to the Achievers’ The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement report, only 45 per cent of the employees surveyed trusted their company’s leadership, which means one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today is how to create effective management training programs to train up-and-coming managers to become its next round of strong leaders.
From employee development programs to management courses and assigning mentors, there are plenty of ways that companies can ensure up-and-coming managers are well-equipped with the skills and mindset needed to step up and succeed. If you’re involved in or can influence your organisation’s management training programs, here are key factors to keep in mind.
Align on expectations and business objectives
Before putting someone into a managerial role, it’s important to have a conversation with your management trainee about their expectations, their future career progression pathway, what their expectations are, and what skills they feel they need to develop to better prepare them for the new role.
Managers also need to understand your company’s business objectives, and how their role and their team will work together to get the company there. According to author and consultant William Schiemann, only 14 per cent of the companies polled in a study revealed their employees have a good understanding of the company’s strategy and direction. It’s hard for a company to perform at its highest level if only 14 per cent of the team understand the bigger picture for their work, which is why it’s crucial for a business to align their objectives and company direction with their new managers so this can cascade throughout the company.
Assign them a mentor or coach
The first few years of a new managerial position can be difficult. By assigning a mentor or coach as part of the management development training, up-and-coming managers will be better set up for success going forward and will have already had initial support they need in order to thrive.
First-time managers are often thrown in the water and expected not to drown. As a first-time manager for a financial software firm, Henry Motyka recounts: “I never had any managerial training and had no idea what to do at first,” he says. “The first year was extremely difficult. I had people who were difficult to control and found myself doing too much of their work. If I only knew then what I know now.”
Connecting a new hire with a more experienced manager not only provides employees with guidance and a sounding board during the early stages – it also helps keep new managers aligned with the company’s expectations and objectives.
The benefits of mentoring can even have a profound effect on leaders in top management positions: the Harvard Business Review reported that 84 per cent of CEOs surveyed said mentors helped them avoid costly mistakes and become proficient in their roles faster.
Focus on developing key skills and competencies
There are some skills that help managers perform better in their roles, and incorporating these into your company’s leadership skills training can fast-track a manager’s performance and productivity.
In an internal study codenamed Project Oxygen, Google identified six habits of highly effective managers, which can act as the foundation for leadership courses for all organisations:
- Mindset and Values. Managers with a growth mindset believe intelligence can be cultivated, and leaders who are more eager to learn, challenge themselves and experiment perform better over time. Because managers are often faced with difficult decisions, those who aren’t afraid to fail and who embrace change are more likely to succeed and cultivate a strong, high-performing team.
- Emotional Intelligence. Managers who are more aware of their emotions, behavior, as well as the emotions of their employees, make better decisions and inspire trust in their teams, cultivate a more productive atmosphere, and improve team morale and engagement.
- Manager Transition. As managers share their knowledge and experiences with new hires, they cultivate a more open and honest workplace, allowing for open discussions on feedback, advice, and new strategies. They can also help future up-and-coming managers with people management training, which leads to an open culture of sharing within teams.
- Coaching. What separates good managers from great managers is their ability to develop their employees, and one of the best ways to do that is by being a strong coach. Coaching involves giving teams timely and specific feedback, tailoring approaches to meet individual needs, being fully present and an empathetic listener, understanding the manager’s own mindset and that of their team, and asking open-ended questions to challenge staff in a productive way.
- Feedback. Employees value the feedback of their managers, which is why managers who can deliver constructive feedback in a clear, productive and positive way are more effective at inspiring trust and developing their team.
- Decision making. It’s incredibly important for managers in any company to make informed decisions. Good managers test out their ideas, and collect feedback when possible, incorporate other perspectives and use those responses to make the best possible choice – even if it’s a difficult one.
Build a supportive company culture
After someone is made a manager, it’s crucial to provide them with ongoing support and training, as well as a forum to discuss any challenges they’re facing. On-going training will help managers avoid common coaching pitfalls, such as micromanaging or infrequent feedback.
Whether through brief informal conversations or scheduled monthly check-ins, fostering a supportive company culture is key to a successful and productive team of employees. If you’re looking to cultivate strong managers in your company, you first need to invest in the ongoing training and development of your leaders.
When it comes down to it, having effective and well-trained managers are key for any company to succeed. By setting your up-and-coming managers with the foundations for success, you’ll foster the growth of great managers – and your whole organisation will reap the benefits for years to come.