For a number of years, I've offered my bite-size training materials in editable format as well as PDF so they can be customised. I've done this so that they can be integrated into a longer programme (Maybe you just need 90 minutes from us and have written the rest yourself), or (more commonly) so that they can be tailored to reference your own examples and use your internal language.
It's disappointing that even today, many people take on, or are promoted into a job without real training. This is a sad reflection on a businesses induction training - and if you need help with that then our friends at Keystone Development are highly recommended.
But the purpose of this blog is to highlight some of the mistakes that new managers make in the hope that forewarned is forearmed. So what are the typical problems?
Not setting out expectations – What’s obvious to you may not be obvious to others. They are not mind readers. Discuss what is expected and set clear goals and objectives so that you CAN leave your team to get on with things.
Poor planning and prioritisation – Many managers simply react to what is happening around them, or jump to attend to their boss whenever called. Even very hands-on managers need to take time to plan each day and identify what MUST be done, as well as focus on the future.
Not delegating – You can’t do it all yourself, and you shouldn’t try. You have a team now, and people in that team need to feel useful and valued. Do your fair share of the work, but don’t do it all.
Focussing on paperwork – many managers make the mistake of focussing all their time and energy on paperwork, reports, admin and spreadsheets. Reading and manipulating data will not achieve results. Managing is about PEOPLE so prioritise them over paperwork.
Lack of Trust – When you have high standards, and when you are responsible for the work of the team, it is tempting to check everything personally. However, this creates a bottle-neck and makes the team feel that they are not trusted. Instead of spending time checking, spend the time coaching.
Trying to be ‘one of the guys’ – Of course you can have friendships at work, but when you are at work, you are a manager. You cannot gain respect as a manager if you act too much like one of the team. set and stick to boundaries.
Not asking for help – When you start a new job or are promoted, give yourself time to grow into the role. You don’t and can’t know everything you need to from day one. Learn from more experienced managers, ask for advice and even consider getting a mentor.
Being busy rather than productive – Many managers rush from one crisis situation to another, from one meeting to another. They work long hours but never seem to achieve anything. Identify the activities that will add most value to your objective/team and focus your time on those. It feels good to 'save the day', but this can be addictive and managers who are too involved are doing, not managing.
Being too eager to please – Many managers feel their job is soley about helping others (which in part it is), but this doesn’t mean getting involved in things that don’t help your team to achieve its objectives, or getting sucked into other peoples problems. Sometimes you have to make unpopular decisions or have difficult conversations. Being respected isn't always about being nice.
Poor performance management – Managers have a duty to manage the performance of their people. This means having conversations every day about what is going well, and where improvements need to be made. Giving feedback is probably the single most important skill that a manager needs.
We have done our best to provide training materials to give people the skills to avoid these problems - In particular, our New Manager Bundle and Performance Management Package have been designed to help new managers to get to grips with the basics and avoid these common mistakes.
Recently I stayed in a budget hotel as I delivered 2 days training. I’m used to budget hotels. I don’t need a lot so the Premier Inn (aka Purple Palace) meets all of my needs.
A comfy bed
A quiet room
A good breakfast
Option to purchase an evening meal (so the lone traveller doesn’t have to venture into the unknown to get fed)
A hairdryer (important for the female traveller)
Free wi-fi (important for the business traveller)
There’s no gym, or catering for specialist diets, or room upgrades, or room service, but that’s OK – it’s a budget hotel.
However, on this occasion I was booked into a different chain. The bed was OK and for the most part it was comfortable and quiet (I got around 5 hours sleep), but there NO food available at all, only 30 minutes wifi, no hairdryer, no extractor fan in the bathroom and only 2 towels so the smaller towel has be used for hand washing, teeth-brushing, standing on when you get out of the shower AND wrapping your hair.
How they are in business when the Premier Inn exists I have no idea.
Budget should mean you have all the basics, and the basics are good. The opportunities for personalisation are minimal. This is what keeps the price down. A standard service, not a limited (or dare I say it) inadequate service. A service that’s predictable, reliable and provides everything you need, if not everything you would want.
I modelled my Power Hour training materials on the Premier Inn – standard, not fancy (I’ve done all the typesetting myself, and you print them out) but providing all the content and guidance you need to run as great training session. Good value. A bargain. Because there’s a difference between budget and cheap.
At the outset, I would like to frame this piece by stressing that I DON'T advertise myself as a coach. I have a basic qualification in coaching and don't offer coaching as a stand-alone service. However, I do help managers to develop basic coaching skills so that they can have constructive and developmental conversations with their teams. So... here's goes.
I ran a half-day session on coaching skills for managers recently. There was a confusion over what coaching actually is. As I see it, it means different things to different people. The construction manager will tell you that he's coaching people when he shows them how to build a wall; the engineering team leader may tell you she's coaching people when they solve a problem together; the professional coach may tell you that it's about unlocking personal obstacles.
Some people are scared to offer 'coaching' at work because they associate it with counselling. Some people feel that it can only take place in a long, formal session and therefore isn't compatible with the modern business needs of agility and pace. Others think that they can only coach someone if they are an expert themselves.
This is why I wanted to state my position at the start: I'm not precious about the definition people use. To me, 'coaching' can fall anywhere on the continuum below, and the format of coaching will vary depending on the nature of the issue, the urgency of finding a solution, the relationship between the individuals, whether there is a single 'right' way or many, and the risk associated with choosing an untested path. What matters is that people work together to find the best way forward for them.
I cover this in my bite-size module 'Coach People', as well as the core skills. It's not designed to provide the skills needed to be a professioanl coach. It's designed to help line managers have supportive yet challenging developmental conversations with their people to create learning from real-work situations.
A lovely bowl of cream of carrot and coriander soup. Just the thing for a cold winter’s day, and pleasing because I made it myself, using carrots I’d grown myself and pulled from the garden 2 days before.
Though of course, I didn’t make it entirely myself. Yes, I grew the carrots, chopped the carrots, added the leeks and seasoning, set the soup maker going and stirred in the cream. But I didn’t grow the leek or the herbs – or transport them to the shop where I bought them. I didn’t raise or milk the cow that made the cream. I certainly didn’t invent or build the soup-maker that actually took all the effort out of making my homemade soup.
However, all these things happened behind the scenes. In my mind, I made the soup. I’m proud of myself and it tasted good.
In the same way that you (quite rightly) feel proud when you design your own training and development programme, even if you buy in a lot of the raw ingredients you need to create your masterpiece.
You select the ingredients. You pull it all together. You season to taste. You can use our training materials as a starting point and add your own home-grown elements and alter the balance to create something that unique to you. Even though the modules are delicious on their own (and stand alone as a complete module), you can buy editable versions to allow you to act as the head chef and make your own signature dish – our materials are just the basic ingredients with which you can create something amazing. It isn't cheating!
Recently, I’ve had a number of reminders of fundamental things that we all need to practice to be successful, and last night at my Zumba class, there was another.
I haven’t done a Zumba related blog for a while, and it’s actually more of a Leadership one. Management and Leadership development is important. No question. A good management induction helps new leaders to understand what’s required of them, and leadership development helps them to learn to execute these things well. That’s why I offer both a New Manager Development Bundle and a Leadership Package!
But there something more crucial than any of these (important) skills. And it’s something ALL leaders and managers can do from day 1 in the role.
And this is where the Zumba analogy comes in.
At my last class, my teacher did not have the same energy and enthusiasm as usual. She seemed distracted, and almost like she didn’t want to be there. As a result, MY energy wasn’t the same as usual. It was as if subconsciously, I didn’t want her to feel alone. It wouldn’t be right for a mere class member to be better than the teacher, so I didn’t put the effort in. I didn’t work off the same number of calories, and neither did I enjoy it as much.
You see, she is our role model. She’s the one who shows us how it’s done. The one we all want to be like. She is our leader. (As it is, she wasn’t feeling well, so actually didn’t want to be there – she’d rather have been at home in her pyjamas with a Lemsip).
But it made me realise that the single most important thing that any leader can do, and any level, in any organisation is to role model the behaviour they want to see from their team. If the team sees the manager being negative, cutting corners, blaming others and having no enthusiasm for their work, it is likely that they will follow suit.
Leaders simply need to be the person they want all their team members to be.
I’ve made a career of designing bespoke management development programmes on behalf of busy L&D managers, and of course, I believe that they add value. However, this one thing can be done by ALL managers and leaders, from day 1, with no cost and no resources.
Customer Service, Employee Engagement and People Development can NEVER be delivered by Smartphone.... and here's why...
I saw a show advertised that we all wanted to go and see and got so excited when I saw it was playing on my husband’s birthday. In a state of giddiness, I quickly ordered the tickets before he got home. Birthday sorted. Job done.
So I thought.
I was looking a few months later for a show to take my mother to, when I noticed that the date for the play was wrong. It wasn’t on my husband’s birthday. It was a month later. WHAT???? In my excitement, I’d obviously made a mistake. He couldn’t go on that night due to work commitments.
I searched the website for help but could find none. I emailed the ticket company and got quite a rude email back basically saying “Tough. The tickets are non-refundable” So, without much hope, I phoned them. Even with a bad line, the lovely Yetta not only transferred our tickets to another date, but she signed me up for membership (a win for them) AND got me some freebies for the evening (a win for me).
People are better than apps. An app can give information, but it can’t react and adapt. It can’t give customer service, provide care, engage or develop people. For that, you need a person. People rock!
To further illustrate this, I’m seeing a number of tweets coming out of Learning Technologies exhibition and conference that focus on apps and systems to improve employee engagement.
You will NEVER increase engagement via an app. You may be able to improve communication, but communication is just a part of engagement.
Like training and development – providing information is just part of the service. Apps can provide information about product, process and procedures, and this means trainers shouldn’t have to cover this in a classroom. But the interactive skills that most people need ought to be covered differently: face to face.
This article is doing the rounds on LinkedIn. It's very sad if it's true! I can only hope that the organisations surveyed forgot about all the informal development that occurs on a daily basis - the one-the-job training, the in-the-moment coaching conversations, and the self-directed learning that people to find a solution to a problem. This is all learning - just not formal!
This highlights the main reasons Power Hour was created though: For those organisations that don't have a lot to spend and can't release people for full days. Can any organisation REALLY not find £40 to buy a session and run it internally?
The great thing with bite-size training like this is that its a bit more formal and structured than the just-in-time informal methods, but not as disruptive and costly as external workshops.