Four out of five managers in Britain are ‘accidental’, according to the Chartered Management Institute. They didn’t set out to become managers, and have little knowledge and experience of how to lead and manage a team. They were promoted because they excelled at their job.
Management is not easy and very specific skills and competencies are needed. Managers must understand that it is no longer about them ‘doing’ and implementing, but coaching and encouraging others to do what they used to.
The management and leadership competencies required will include effective communication skills, understanding how to motivate and influence people, knowing how to reprimand others, managing conflict, delegating effectively, and setting goals and objectives.
While some companies may believe such skills can be picked up on the job it makes it far harder for new managers and increases the risk of things going wrong. Let’s not forget that most people tend to leave a manager rather than a job.
A growing number of UK companies are investing more in training and coaching to address their skills gaps at a senior level. According to the CIPD’s 2015 Learning and Development report, three-quarters of organisations currently offer coaching or mentoring and an additional 13% plan to offer it in the next year.
HR can play an important role in either coaching managers or ensuring that external support is provided to upskill and support these new managers.
Here are some tips for new managers on how to approach the role for the first time:
1. Learn to delegate effectively – Delegating is not about abdicating responsibility, but giving a task to the right person and managing the process. This means communicating clearly how it should be performed, the standards required, and giving the right level of support from beginning to end.
2. Don’t assume your standards are obvious – They may need to be spelled out as people aren’t mind readers. Patience is important as it might take time for someone to do things to your standards.
3. Get to know your team – Talk to them and find out what development and training they have had and need. Some may require coaching and others will be more self-sufficient. Understand different personality types too as not everyone will respond to the same style of leadership.
4. Feedback little and often and praise good work – If feedback is given with integrity and with the intention of helping the individual it can turn a good performer into an excellent one. It creates an honest culture and helps reduce conflict, improve communication, and boost morale.
5. Create a sense of team spirit – It’s vital for people to understand why the team is important. Ask each person to answer the following questions, and then have a discussion where the team leader shares his/her views. This could be done once a year to see how the team has changed. Ask:
- What is the purpose of the team?
- What is the team goal and how does this fit into the business goals/strategy?
- How do you as an individual perceive your role in the team?
6. Support and develop the team – Supporting your team is important; listen to them, open doors for them and escalate issues on their behalf when required.
7. Laugh together and celebrate achievement – Encourage your team to share a joke or funny story now and again. Ensuring the work environment is a little more relaxed can help people feel less stressed and can actually make them work better together. Celebrating individual and team performance is essential too as people need to feel their work is valued.
Marielena Sabatier is CEO of Inspiring Potential