It may (or may not) come as a surprise to learn that, according to a survey conducted in 2021, more than a quarter of managers have NEVER had any training on how to manage people.
That is truly shocking. Especially as most management roles include some element of people management.
In my humble opinion, first-line managers are the most crucial population in any organisation. They are the ones that make sure the work gets done. They are the ones delivering the day to day services that are required to keep the company going. They are under pressure from above and below, are often overworked and overlooked and now it seems, given the least amount of training and development: The senior team are all engaged in leadership programmes, and the employees are fully trained in technical aspects. Poor forgotten line managers.
Line managers are often promoted for their success in operational/technical roles. It is meant to be seen as a reward. But management skills are completely differently different to technical skills, and it shouldn't be assumed that success in one will lead to success in the other.
Too often new managers are left to work it out as they go, or enrolled on some leadership course that helps them to understand their style, and drivers, but doesn't help them to organise their team, give clear instructions, delegate, manage performance and build a team.
They need to master the basics of management before learning the nuances of leadership.
What are the top 12 skills managers need?
Newly promoted managers need to make the move from team player to team leader and deliver business as usual. A previous blog on the Mistakes that New Managers Make outlines why this step up might be difficult, but here are 12 things most managers need to master to consistently deliver results.
Setting goals that are meaningful and realistic so everyone in the team is aligned to business priorities, can see the role they play in achieving them, and measure their own success.
Plan their time and allocate work so they don't try and do it all themselves. They need to know what tasks they should do themselves and what to let go of so they don't burn out. As a manager you get work done through others: managing is not doing!
Delegating. Too many new managers don't realise that being responsible for making sure something is done is NOT the same as taking responsibility for doing it yourself. Delegation is different to work allocation, and it's a great way to build trust and develop others. There is an art to delegation and it won't come naturally to most.
Communicating Clearly. It's all very well setting the goal and planning how it will be achieved, but if team members don't know what's expected of them, they are likely to fail. Most problems in organisations are a result of poor communication - you have to communicate more often that you think.
Giving Feedback that is useful! Part of regular communication with team members should be the giving (and receiving) of feedback. Too many managers wait for a problem or a major success, but giving feedback every day builds relationships, builds trust and keeps everything aligned and on track.
Building trust and openness. In todays agile, hybrid cultures trust is everything but it isn't a right: it has to be earned, and its earned by the way we treat people every day.
Coaching people in the flow of work. Line managers do not need to be coaches, but they DO need to use basic coaching skills to develop their team in the flow of work to build their skills and confidence. This means not solving every problem, but helping team members to work things out. A more capable team needs less performance managing and is going to be more successful.
Have difficult conversations. Not being afraid to ask the difficult question and raising concerns shows care and compassion. If a team member seems to be struggling, managers need to acknowledge it, raise the matter and support a solution if possible.
Manage under-performance which means tackling issues when they arise and BEFORE they become major problems. This is better for everyone, as allowing issues to escalate is stressful for everyone and costs time, money and team harmony.
Build effective working relationships not just within the team, but also with peers in other locations, departments or even organisations. Learning how to get along different people saves a lot of time and a lot of unnecessary stress.
Motivate and engage the team to help keep them going in difficult times.
Be resilient - Being a manager is TOUGH! Whilst it's good to share the high and lows with the team, some things do have to be shouldered alone. Not everything will succeed, and it's important managers know how to bounce-back and try again whilst protecting their own mental and physical health.
Of course, there are many many other skills that good managers need like problem solving, decision making and influencing people. They also need to understand and use the policies and processes designed to support people management in their organisation. Where possible, aim to train new managers in processes and behaviours together because that's the best way to make the learning stick.
It's perhaps no surprise that our best selling training package is the New Manager Training Programme.
Managers come to the role with vastly different skills and experiences, so in terms of training, one size doesn't necessarily fit all. However, MOST managers need MOST of these skills, and the sad fact is, too many organisations are letting their managers down.
And then they wonder why their managers fail to deliver....