For most ambitious employees, the measure of success, the pinnacle of their career lies straight ahead in a path towards management. We’re pretty traditional in our view of what success looks like – a bigger, more important title and more money……. Becoming the office equivalent of a coach is what most employees are conditioned to aspire to, even if it’s not the best fit for them and their natural skillset.
The management role is very often given to the best performer in the role below, but not everyone is cut out for a role that requires setting aside doing the work in favour of empowering and developing others to do the work. So, can anyone, with enough desire and proper training, become a manager? Are good managers born or made?
The answer is both
There are some managers who instinctively ‘get’ the basics of how to bring out the best in others – they understand that management is definitely not a one size fits all approach, that everyone is different and that, in order to get the best out of others, you need to understand what makes them tick, what they want from work and what animates them to work well.
You need to flex your style to suit the needs of the recipient. They also recognise that, if they invest their time in coaching and developing their people, they will achieve on their behalf. They have let go of their previous doing role, actively made the transition from team member to team manager and recognise the importance of doing so. They recognise the importance of regular communication and the importance of listening. They are born managers.
I also believe that, with the right training and development and the right attitude, those who are not genetically predisposed to working with and through others, those who don’t instinctively ‘get it’, can learn how to be good managers. However, we need to appreciate that learning to manage others requires a very significant commitment, just like learning to play the piano or becoming a technical expert. If we appoint the best individual performers and we don’t do training, we are bound to have problems.
Many managers struggle to make the shift from doing to managing – they spend a lot of time trying to do the work they used to be good at and not enough time coaching, supporting and helping to develop their people to do that work instead. But, if you’re not one of that minority group of managers who instinctively just ‘gets it’, how are you supposed to be any different if no one teaches you? Many companies simply don’t invest in management training. In fact, many companies don’t invest in training of any kind, full stop.
Teaching and training is key
Having spent 30 years as an HR professional, I have seen a few of the first category of people managers and many of the second category. My last job in the corporate world was as HR Business Partner in a local insurance company with a large call centre. Most of the team leaders were either school leavers or new graduates who had been promoted from within their teams and found themselves with limited life experience managing their peers – and struggling.
As a result, I developed a series of workshops, to equip them with the knowledge and confidence they needed to make the transition from team member to team manager. I have built on and refined the content over the years and delivered the programme both in-house and, more recently, as an open programme where managers from all different businesses come together to learn, share their frustrations and build their confidence. The feedback has been incredibly positive and we look to run this workshop on an annual basis.
The programme is made up of 7 half day modules:
Introduction to management and understanding what motivates you and others
Handling difficult conversations
Conducting appraisals and managing performance
Discipline and grievance
Delegation, time management and leadership styles
Recruitment and selection and understanding more about personality types.
The workshops will be held once a month in the boardroom of Bond Williams Professional Recruitment, Heliting House, Richmond Hill, Bournemouth. Dates are yet to be confirmed but will likely run from March to November, with a break in August.
Rosemary has over 30 years’ experience in HR for the private and public sector and now runs her own Dorset-based consultancy. She and her team specialise in employee relations, change management, HR strategy, organisational development and reward and job evaluation.