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HR How-To: Build Great Managers

Often, when we select someone to move up in our organization and take on a leadership role, we do so because they are right at their job. In a sales role, they may have been your top earner for the last few quarters (or even years), in the service industry they may be your star employee that constantly delivers and always goes the extra mile, and on the assembly line they may be the guy or gal with the fastest hands in the factory. However, an individual’s prowess in their current role does not necessarily equate to their performance once they have the extra responsibility that comes along with being the top dog (and more often than not, having a team of their own to manage!) 

But why is it important to have proficient managers? Well, when we talk about turnover, countless studies cite poor management and leadership as top reasons that employees jump ship. In one meta-analysis that examined the 57 top causes of employee turnover, the survey supported the belief that “people leave managers, not jobs” noting that supervisor behavior is directly tied to team member’s job satisfaction and organizational commitment, both of which, in turn, are stand-alone factors in employee turnover. 

So, how can you make your star employee also a star manager? Read on for our top tips: 

Be selective: 
As we touched on above, sometimes your top-tier salesperson would be a first-class failure if put in a managerial position (not to mention likely miserable!) When thinking about who you want to serve in a leadership role in your company, think first about who you want to represent your company, including who you trust to uphold your company values, who can lead a team to success from the inception of an idea through to completion, and who can mentor and motivate your employees. Finding someone with these attributes is certainly tricky, but if someone has an aptitude for even one AND demonstrates an interest in gaining the remaining skills, they should certainly be considered for the role. 

Set them up for success: 
Perhaps you are looking for a manager to lead a specific team or even guide a specific product launch or initiative. If this is the case, your manager can only be as good as the team that works under them. Where possible, add a new manager to an established team or one that has worked together well in the past so that their focus can be on the task at hand rather than laying all the groundwork that typically goes into creating new work groups. Further, you should give your new manager as much intel as you can about what has worked well in the group previously to keep workers motivated and ultimately achieve success. Once your new manager has gotten their feet wet managing a project without having to worry too much about group dynamics, you can start thinking about which projects they would be best suited to grow from the ground up in your company.

Put them through their paces: 
Recognizing that there are few born leaders, when you decide to promote an employee, you should anticipate that they will require a good bit of training. While there will certainly be training offerings that are unique to your business, such as using a certain software only accessible to higher ups or learning how to draw up various reports, do not discount the basic “how to be a manager” classes that should be in every leader’s tool box. In short, your managers need to learn the basics, including essential management skills; guidance on communicating information, fostering teamwork, and delegating tasks, information on how to encourage and engage team members, framework for difficult and disciplinary conversations, and even just some tips on how to manage their existing workload while also serving in a leadership role. 

Mention a mentor: 
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and when it comes to building a great manager, role models are key. If your company does not already have a broader mentorship program, consider implementing one to help guide potential leaders in your business. Through these mentorship programs, up and comers can not only learn more about how upper management functions within your company but can also see, through almost an informal, extended orientation, what being a manager looks like in the day-to-day. Working with a role model also helps to develop the so-called soft skills, such as networking, working collaboratively, problem solving, and conflict resolution, in a low-stakes environment. 

Turn to technology: 
If you use any kind of information systems or other technologies to help manage and track various team efforts or even divisional goals across the company, make sure that your new manager not only has access to these tools, but also understands how they work and how they should interface with the technologies. Some systems, for example, help to organize various tasks, while others are used as a reporting tool of sorts to keep other departments and divisions apprised of what’s going on in the rest of your company make sure your new manager understands the aim of the technology so that they can both participate and leverage the information. 

Praise performance: 
As with anyone in a new role, you’ll want to go ahead and set performance expectations at the time of the interview so that everyone is on the same page about the metrics for success. Further, it is crucial that you provide feedback and that you deliver it both informally, in the moment, whether good or bad, as well as along a more formal timeline where progress towards specific goals can be evaluated and behaviors can be discussed and tweaked accordingly. In some cases, you may want to implement a reward system – be it recognition, a team event, or even a monetary incentive to further elicit strong performance. 

If you know you have good managers in your midst but are not sure how to turn them into the managers of your dreams, come chat with us! We offer extensive training options that we can customize to meet both the needs of your business and the employee filling the new role. Further, we can help you with all other aspects of the manager onboarding process, including establishing goals, drafting performance programs, and even helping you to launch a mentorship program of your own. Reach out today and we will get you and your staff on the path to success. 

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