Steve is a outstanding employee, has been at the company for a few years, and his department is set to grow over the next 12 months. You need someone to lead this growing team, and you'd like to internally promote a strong team player. Steve is a great candidate for promotion, right?
Well, yes and no.
Caroline, has just been hired from another company where she was a top performer in her department and a great team player, but the firm was smaller and she had just two direct reports at her previous job. She's excited about joining your company and the opportunity to lead a larger team, taking her career to the next level. Will she be a great leader?
Again... maybe yes, maybe no.
All too often managers fail because, while they were top performing individual contributors, they have never been trained to manage others. They showed good teamwork skills so we assume they will also be able to lead a team effectively.
Unfortunately this isn't usually the case. Effective management skills are very different from the technical or professional skills that these individuals have excelled at in the past. Even more unfortunately, organizations are doing very little to try to fix this skills gap.
You might get lucky. These Steve and Caroline might just be naturals and just "get it", or maybe they're real self-starters and go out to devour in their spare time all the information they can get on how to be a good manager. But should companies really be leaving it up to luck?
According to a CareerBuilder survey, 26% of managers said they weren’t ready to become a leader when they started managing others. 58% said they didn’t receive any management training. Given that studies have repeatedly shown that employees leave companies because of bad managers, these should be alarming statistics.
The management skills sweet spot
It's time to take a more proactive approach to training your new managers with the management skills they need to be successful managers. And there is a perfect time to do this... during the onboarding process. Onboarding already happens if the manager is a new hire, but it is also beneficial to an existing employee transitioning into a new role.
Here are some ways to incorporate management training into your onboarding program for new hires with management responsibilities, or just new managers.
Teach them what it means to lead effectively at your company. Include practical management skill training content into your onboarding content so they know what is expected of them and how to lead the key people management conversations and become effective managers.
Help them connect with other new managers. Why not give them a forum to bounce ideas off another (anonymously or not.... up to you) and share what's working and what isn't.
Give them a mentor. I'm sure you do know who the good managers are. And if you don't, then make it a point to find out. Now put the strengths of those seasoned managers to work for the benefit of all by making them management mentors for you newer managers.
Leverage technology. Your managers need tools to help them learn these new skills. They need guidance so that can effectively learn by doing, and not fall flat because they don't remember something from a leadership course they attended six months ago.
So you've got four things you can start working on now. Put them into action and Steve and Caroline are more likely to successfully manage their teams which we all know means they're more happy and engaged in their new roles. I'm sure they will thank you... and so will their future teams.