Transforming Your Managers into Leaders

August 14, 2018

Leadership training class

Hiring the right manager isn’t the end to developing successful teams. Every manager has room to grow and it’s your job, along with the organization, to make sure that your managers are growing periodically. 87% of companies say they don’t do an excellent job developing leaders throughout their organization. If you find yourself in that 87%, this article will help you come up with a plan for growth, resulting in more talented recruits and increased employee retention.

The first conversation after hiring/promoting a new manager

Whether you’ve hired outside talent or promoted within, those first 30 days of employment are critical. During that time, it’s up to you to set expectations of what the organization values in a leader and how that leader’s success will be measured.

If you’re in a smaller organization with fewer managers, this might just mean that you have a one-on-one conversation about what success looks like for their role and the leadership qualities you expect them to exhibit in the role.

If you’re in a larger organization that consistently hires new managers, you may want to consider having a ‘managers only’ class during the onboarding process. Regardless of how you do it, it’s critical that you are intentional and definitive with your expectations.

Regardless of size, consider this philosophy:

Managers don’t manage people. They manage projects and lead people. When you manage a project, you are trying to plan for every scenario. You’re trying to make sure that everything is perfect and it goes exactly according to plan. That, unfortunately, is not the same for people. People aren’t perfect, and they aren’t just cogs in a machine that can be programmed to do whatever you want them to do. They are emotional beings that need to be supported, they need to be challenged and they need to be trusted. Interestingly enough, two of the top complaints of managers are their lack of trust and micromanagement (which go hand in hand). This comes from a manager’s fear of failure and their desire to look like a good manager.

Why is being a leader so challenging?

Well, primarily because it’s a fundamental shift in the way you have been working, thinking and how your success has been evaluated for your entire career. Before our transition to leadership roles, we were asked to accomplish tasks. We were asked to climb ladders and to prove our worth. But the moment you become a leader that all has to change. At the end of the day your role is to help your team succeed. Good leaders know that they need to support and challenge their teams to be the best they can be. Bad managers expect their teams to make them look good. Here's where the organization comes into play. It’s the organization’s responsibility to establish and reinforce this new evaluation of success. They have to reinforce that managers are being valued by how their team succeeds under their leadership, not just their individual success.

Practices you can implement to transform managers to leaders

After you’ve set those expectations, your work has just begun. You can’t just launch it and leave it. If you’re like most companies, your managers are busy. They’re expected to go from being high-level and strategic one moment, to tactical and accountable the next. Making time for training and growth can be challenging, but it’s crucial. So, consider establishing annual training opportunities for your managers.

There are also internal learning programs that you can leverage to help develop your leaders. By partnering with an HCM provider, you will be able to not only create your own training programs, but you can choose from an assortment of powerful courses that deliver a visually intuitive and interactive training experience. See our learning management system for more information.

leadership-training

Ongoing practices to help your leaders succeed

Let’s talk about going forward and what practices and principles you can enact every day to really help your leaders succeed.

  • Keep them informed: so many leaders are criticized for not having a level of transparency with their team. But leaders can’t be transparent if they don’t know critical organizational information or haven’t been taught how to share that information. Consider hosting monthly or quarterly leadership meetings where managers can be kept up to speed on company goals and strategies. Make that information concise and shareable so that they can go back to their respective teams and present what they’ve learned.

  • Keep them engaged: People that reach a management level, more often than not, really aspire to make an organizational impact. While it’s 100% on them to be able to be proactive and strategic, it is on the organization to create an environment where they can actually impact that change. So, consider creating some formal feedback loops with your leaders. Maybe it’s in those leader meetings we just mentioned. Whatever your preferred method, you need to provide an opportunity where you offer a forum for suggestions and feedback on the pulse of the organization. At the end of the day it’s these leaders who are most connected with front line associates and the culture.

  • Keep them inspired: Successful leaders are both passionate and inspired. Continually ask your managers: Why do you do what you do? Once you have this knowledge use it to constantly keep them engaged.

  • Keep them motivated: You must keep challenging your managers. Create a culture that encourages humble, passionate and intentional leadership. Praise strong leaders and call out actions that set them apart. If you haven’t already, consider rethinking the structure of your bonuses for leaders to reflect the success of the team rather than the individual. Not only does that help change the mindset of success for your managers but it also reinforces what your organization, values.

  • Keep them growing: Think about how you can continue to offer education and training programs. Don’t forget that conferences have the power to re-engage, re-motivate, re-inspire and help grow your leaders. Encourage them to apply for speaking opportunities at conferences or webinars. It gets them out of their comfort zone and it helps promote your organization. You should also consider having a mentorship program where your more successful leaders partner with junior level managers. This will help them grow and hold them more accountable to their mentors.

  • Let them lead: When an individual becomes a manger, they aren’t truly given the autonomy they need to create a successful team. One of the more common complaints about managers is that they don’t praise success. They don’t take time out of the day to celebrate both large and small wins. Consider developing a budget that they can use to celebrate those wins. Maybe it’s a free lunch or maybe it’s just a hand-written note. Allow your managers to come up with ways to motivate their teams and don’t stop them from celebrating wins.


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