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The Secret to Better People Management – And How Your Business Can Get Better at ItThe is capitalized because it is

29 October 2021
team exercise

Is it possible to develop your people so they become better line managers, or do you have to simply get better at recruitment? This is a question we are asked on a regular basis.

There are of course many outstanding natural people managers out there who play a key role in the success of their organisation and the careers of those who are lucky enough to work with them.

Yet sadly, there are many more who find it harder, that run the risk of being considered simply not up to the task. These so-called ‘reluctant managers’, are apparent living proof of The Peter Principle, and have somehow found themselves in the position of being responsible for others simply because they themselves are exceptional in their own line of expertise.

In short, the skills required to help others to develop, grow and be more effective are very different to the skills required to be successful in a single contributor role.

Here are a few thoughts on what business leaders can both do and avoid to help develop better line managers.

1. Change your approach to training and make management an ongoing project

Dr Clare Rigg, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool Management School, was quoted in People Management, saying that "learning to manage should be an ongoing project rather than being taught in a one off short-term manner".

Several of our clients are now adopting this approach, moving away from one-off workshops to a series of bespoke sessions spread over a period of months. Several weeks are left in between sessions to enable participants to practice and hone their skills. They also participate in individual coaching sessions, which enables focus in specific areas for development and growth.

2. Separate the management of technical competencies and emotional needs

Many organisations adopt a matrix style of management but this idea, adopted by the likes of Spotify for example, ensures that employee’s technical and emotional needs are essentially looked after by two separate managers. It works on the premise that just because you are technically sound, does not necessarily mean you possess excellent people skills. In this respect, This can be a relatively short-term fix because, approached as a longer term commitment, it is possible to develop the people skills of the managers in your organisation - see point 1 above!

3. Develop and apply more coaching and mentorship from leaders inside the organisation

Several of our clients use this often overlooked tool, especially for emerging leaders who value the experience and guidance of those who have ‘been there and done it’.

But perhaps the most interesting - and valuable - outcome of this approach is that it works both ways; experienced leaders often talk about how much they benefit from working with emerging leaders with a diversity of views and experiences, and from having to think about the searching questions they ask.

4. What do the reviews say?

How many of us would book a holiday or a stay in a hotel now without checking out the reviews first? Increasingly our decisions are directly influenced, at least in part, by the opinions of others. This is essentially known as ‘social proof’ and is a key driver of the decisions we make and how we behave (whether we are aware of it, prepared to admit it, or not),

So in order to gain an insight into the relative strengths and development areas of line managers, we need to not just listen to but analyse the feedback of the teams they lead, enabling the leadership of the organisation to act to improve the management skills and the experience of all your people.

This relies on building a culture of trust and honesty within organisations, which then leads to the development of a culture of self-awareness and continuous improvement.

Granted, this is not always easy to achieve, but ask yourself; what are the costs of not doing it? After all, who would genuinely flourish in a culture of distrust, dishonesty and a lack of self-awareness?

In our experience, it is absolutely possible to develop people so they can become better managers. But it takes more than the occasional training session, it means harnessing the senior experience you already have inside the business (who will benefit from being coaches and mentors too) and the leadership has to really listen to feedback (and know what they’re listening for) to develop the right kind of culture to support and develop their managers.

If you would like to arrange a complimentary consultation to discuss how to further support your line managers, we would love to hear from you. You can contact us on 01295 675506 or email ad@donovantrainingassociates to arrange for us to call you

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