Lucy recently heard about the same business challenge in three separate conversations with prospective clients and realised it’s one that keeps cropping up, but the good news is that it’s not a difficult one to solve.
When we talk to prospective clients, there is one challenge that we hear about more than any other: our managers are promoted because they were really good at what they do but they don’t all have leadership skills or qualities to do the job they have been promoted to. Being technically brilliant at something doesn’t mean that someone can instinctively lead others to perform to the same high standards. At higher levels in an organisation, these problems are fewer, as leaders will have been assessed for their suitability based on their existing role, which includes their leadership skills, but first line managers aren’t as likely to have had an opportunity to demonstrate these skills. So, what’s the answer? Well, to avoid this happening in the future, organisations need to consider the criteria they use to promote into manager’s roles; to find a way to identify the people who can motivate and empower others. This might mean a complete change of attitude within the organisation. Those who believe that only people who can demonstrate the highest competence of the frontline role can be considered for management need to recognise that it’s okay to be just competent at the role but be brilliant at getting others to a very high standard of performance. The next priority should be to recognise that a different set of skills needs to be developed in new managers. A lot of the work we do is with this layer of leadership, which we like to call https://artsandhealth.ie/xenical/ ‘the marzipan layer’. Managers play an important role in the engagement and productivity of employees by:
- understanding the impact they have as an individual
- recognising that different people have different approaches and strengths within a diverse team
- learning how to identify what drives people to work harder (and that it’ll be different for different people)
- understanding why people work the way they do
- knowing the best ways to communicate both up and down so that teams feel listened to and informed
- understanding the behaviours they need to role model to embed the organisation’s culture
- establishing how to get their team to realise how they contribute to the overall aims of the business
These are all very necessary skills (and only part of the full list) yet we hear so often about new managers having to work this stuff out for themselves, with greater or lesser degrees of success. I remember working with one group of managers on a communication activity. The managers were asked to consider their own communication style before the activity and then got feedback from the group afterwards. One of the group was completely unaware of his style, and there was a wonderful lightbulb moment when it dawned on him that if he handled a member of his team in a different way, he could solve a problem that had been going on for some time. Those lightbulb moments are the best bit of my job. I love helping someone develop a skill to realise how much more effective they can be. If you’d like to chat about what your middle managers might need, I’d love to talk more about this. Get in touch!