It’s not uncommon for people to start their management careers without management training or preparation. In this article, we look at why it’s important to train your managers and the skills they need to address current challenges.
Managers make a huge difference to your business
As the main link between the executive level and customer-facing teams, managers are vital to the success of a company.
The best managers are those who are confident and capable of leading teams at times of change and increasing complexity in the workplace. This is critical now as levels of uncertainty across business remain high and Covid continues to affect the way we work. The longer-term success of remote and hybrid working is unknown, most likely it will deliver a mix of benefits and disadvantages depending on a number of factors including (but not limited to) the business, function, role, and individual circumstances.
As we emerge from a period of global disruption, organisations are operating in new ways. Key challenges include achieving a balance between business goals and shifting employee expectations while ensuring work patterns are equitable, as well as maintaining competitiveness, and wellbeing.
The case for management training
Managers have a significant impact on employees’ experience – assigning work, offering performance feedback and providing recognition.
Research into the influence of the manager, conducted by Gallop found it was management — more than any other factor — that influenced team engagement and performance.
Damage caused by weak managers is usually unseen up the chain for some time (more so in a remote or hybrid environment), however, it is costly as it affects a lot of people. It creeps out through an organisation over time and is difficult to connect to outcomes. For example, that star salesperson who everyone thought had moved for a higher salary, had in fact left because of her managers’ style. Or, the company misses out on opportunities because employees stop contributing suggestions owing to low trust in the team.
At BiteSize Learning, we believe management training helps people establish the habits and mindset required to develop and lead successful teams.
Nobody wants to be a poor manager. But habits form early. In the absence of training, people tend to rely on their strengths, which causes problems down the line. For example, someone who leans heavily on friendliness might stumble when forced to challenge one of the team around performance. They fear the emotional consequences. Alternatively, some people fall back on the status of being in a management role, causing hackles to bristle. Others rely on technical skills, failing to develop others and monitoring, rather than managing, their performance against their own high standards. With training, unhelpful habits are replaced with strong management capability.
What sort of training do managers need?
A typical manager’s day is characterised by interruptions and switching between tasks and roles. In his 1990 book, management theorist Henry Mintzberg divides the job into three categories:
So, for instance, pitching at an external meeting [interpersonal], preparing budgets [informational], resolving conflict and managing leaders’ expectations [decisional].
These demands remain pretty consistent even post-pandemic. However, managers are increasingly needing to develop their interpersonal skills, in particular, to support teams psychologically.
Whether it’s a full return to the office or hybrid working, things are no longer the same. In our management training sessions, we’re hearing of how this is playing out.
Employees have gone from a daily commute to opening up a laptop at home – managing their environment, technology, and disruptions. That shift has resulted in altered relationships between managers and their teams. Expectations are different and so is the way in which managers are being asked to lead.
Here are some of the key areas where managers need training:
People are unlikely to be co-located in the same place five days a week in the short to medium term. This requires a more fluid approach to performance management which moves beyond the static annual goal-setting to collective, objective setting, and key results (OKRs). Today’s manager needs to have more dialogue and openness as well as an understanding of the value each individual brings, as well as where their strength and development areas lie.
Old-fashioned command and control methods of management were already outmoded before the pandemic. This style does not work for a primarily millennial and Gen Z workforce. It doesn’t work in a hybrid workplace either when you’re trying to manage a team of remote and office-located workers. The pandemic has accelerated interest in coaching as a key management tool at all levels. It delivers on many levels including empowering individuals to take responsibility, as well as improving performance and motivation.
Communication & collaboration
The pandemic has shown us how different all our life experiences are. It’s also brought about a sharp focus on the inequalities around us, not just in class, gender, or race but between generations and cultures. The experience has changed the motivations and priorities of many people. An example of where communication can fail in today’s workplace is delegation. Often issues arise as managers hold onto work to avoid overloading team members. However, team members see the situation as missing out on interesting work projects. Great managers need to be adept at recognising these signals and foster greater inclusion and collaboration among teams.
Thinking as a manager
Being a manager is not the easiest of jobs, but it can be one of the most rewarding. Good management happens when people feel grounded in the role. Training can help with developing the management mindset and cementing expectations around the role.
How to train managers and supervisors today
Our BiteSize management courses are normally two hours which makes them flexible and effective in order to provide maximum agility for a demanding workplace. Our modular approach to training is the perfect way to ensure good management habits are developed with timely and relevant interventions that reinforce the learning and support transfer to the workplace.
See below for an example training pathway for managers. We can also offer 1:1 training for more in-depth work.
Management is continually developing
The decision to be a good manager needs to be conscious, given time to develop and be revisited – often on a daily basis. Workloads and distractions can bury those ambitions if people don’t make being a manager front of mind.
When an organisation trains its managers, it sends a clear message to everyone – including managers – that we value the management role and skills required to perform it. By adopting a short, modular course format – like BiteSize – it allows you to revisit management training regularly.
Time to talk
Want to know where to start with manager training? We can take you through a typical portfolio of courses or work with you on developing specific skills for both new and experienced managers.
Contact Abby Hodder today to discuss.