According to a recent study, over two thirds of managers categorise themselves as ‘accidental managers’.
Accidental managers are promoted based on their service record, rather than a history of people management or possessing clear leadership skills.
When we recruit for most roles, we base the decision on whether we think somebody has the skillsets to do the job. But when we recruit for managers (arguably our most important roles) we base it on whether somebody is good at a completely different job, compared to their day-to-day one. Strange, right!?
To make matters worse, often when businesses promote people into managerial roles, they do so without offering any management training. You wouldn’t hire somebody externally without training them, so why would you expect a manager with no prior experience of leading people to do this without any guidance?
Managers have a significant impact on the culture of your business and, ultimately, on your staff retention. Therefore, it’s vital you get it right.
So, what can you do to get the best out of your managers?
Firstly, look at the reasons why you’re choosing to promote somebody into a managerial position. Is it simply that they have been with you a long time, or that they excel in their current position? If that is all, and you don’t see any leadership skills in them, maybe explore alternative ways you could develop their role. It doesn’t have to be the case that the only way to progress within a business is to become a manager. Not everyone has the skillset or indeed the desire, so look at offering other routes instead. Perhaps they could become subject matter experts in their field, without having to directly manage a team.
If you do think somebody has leadership skills and they would be an asset to you as a manager, that’s great. The next step is for them to attend leadership training courses, so they can be furnished with all the necessary knowledge and skills to do the job well. Nobody sets out to be a bad manager. They often get thrown in at the deep end and aren’t given the tools they need. The more you invest in training your managers, the more they’ll succeed; and, in turn, the happier they and the rest of your staff will be!
Aim to ensure that you’re providing and receiving regular feedback – it’s vital that you have a continuous dialogue with your managers. They may be capable of working ‘to their own tune’, but you can still be there to offer support and advice. It’s also important to receive feedback from their team, which can be done anonymously. They’re the people on the ground who have a true understanding of how the manager is doing, so ask them! Hopefully they’ll offer you useful insight, which can then be relayed to the manager to give them a boost. If there are criticisms, you can deliver this in a constructive way to help the manager improve.
Freedom to make changes
It’s important you set clear parameters of what you expect from your management team, and then give them the freedom to make changes to achieve your goals. There’s nothing more demotivating than thinking you’re about to make a real difference, then having every decision stifled. Be open to taking their ideas on board and implementing changes. Your managers are the best people to help you do this, because they’re viewing matters from a different perspective than you. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean it always has to continue.
What are the goals and aspirations of your team? The last thing anybody wants is to become stagnant. If a manager has been in their role for a long time, they may become despondent if they feel they’re not learning anything new or that they’ve reached a ceiling. People are keen for development – and that goes for managers, too. So, discover what they want from their role on a regular basis and work with them to achieve their goals. Try providing them with further training courses or allowing them to support in other areas of the business.
If you need any further information on this topic, or support with recruiting for your management and senior management roles, get in touch!