This guest blog post was written by Patricio Sanchez, Ed.S. and is a Neutral on the Senatus Neutral Panel.
There is a great impetus for management and leadership training. It is very easy to find literature indicating that upon reflection, new managers often feel ill equipped to smoothly transition into their new leadership role. Similarly, a great amount of literature can be found where direct reports (staff) state their dissatisfaction with the leadership style of a new manager. To improve the quality of the leader/subordinate working relationship, having well-trained managers is a must.
It’s therefore essential that companies, organizations, and supervisors provide these new managers with professional development opportunities to build or enhance managerial skills necessary to effectively lead and influence people to accomplish the goals and mission of the organization. As your organization looks to train new, effective leaders, here are some things you should consider to give new managers access and opportunities to develop this new skill set.
No matter how big or small your company is--or how well resourced you may be, every organization should engage in on-going professional development (PD) for all employees, but especially for managers.
One basic, yet critically important, PD activity is for new managers to become intimately familiar with the employee handbook. Managing people should not be a daunting task. Managers actually have a rather small playing field from which to exercise their management skills. What I mean is that before managers get to flex their leadership skills, they must first be knowledgeable of and adhere to some of the basic laws that guide interactions between a manager and his or her subordinate. , as well as internal policies, guidelines, rules, regulations or SOP’s.
The need for managerial understanding of all company rules and local and federal laws makes it essential that new managers are given access to the employee handbook and any other internal documents containing content associated with laws, procedures, practices, policies, or guidelines. It is also important that top leadership and/or Human Resources leaders conduct a review of the employee handbook and update the handbook at least once a year and, at the very least conduct, an "all-staff" or "all-manager" training to go over any changes.
Some critical topics to pay particular attention as a new manager include sections on: Harassment & Sexual Harassment; Violence in the workplace policy; Standards of Conduct; Internet and Email Communication policy; Whistleblower policy; Grievance policy; Due Process policy; Equal Employment Opportunity; just to name a few. As you can see a thorough understanding of the content within the employee handbook will greatly help new managers avoid stepping on some serious landmines that exist in the world of managing people.
BUILDING LEADERSHIP CAPACITY
Manager training shouldn’t stop with the handbook. The following are a few ideas on how to further develop managerial and leadership skills for new managers:
1. External Training: There are excellent training for new managers that are conducted by external companies. One such course is the "From Bud to Boss" training that new managers can attend (in-person or online) for one or two days where they will learn new managerial concepts and strategies or enhance the skills they already have. Tuition Reimbursement: A great way to provide state-of-the-art managerial knowledge is to reimburse relevant college or university courses relating to leadership, management, administration, etc.
2. Internal PD: Having a formalized and systematized PD program for new managers (as well as experienced or seasoned managers) is ideal. Carve-out time (monthly preferably or once a quarter at minimum) to bring in subject matter experts on management, leadership, or related topics for all-manager trainings.
3. PD on a budget: Pair up new managers with a mentor (not their direct supervisor) who can advise and coach the new manager as challenges or issues come up in the workplace. Also, having a PD plan with short and long-term goals on leadership development can help keep the focus on this on-going learning. Empower new managers to take the lead in their own PD by having them engage in autonomous learning by conducting literature research or selecting books and articles to build or enhance their leadership and managerial skills. Other ideas include establishing a cadre of new managers so they can help each other with the learning process and foster peer learning.
There are myriad ways in which companies or organizations can provide PD for new managers. There is no "one right way,”- the important part is that top leadership must make it a priority and allocate time and resources to do it justice according to your organizational capacity. Top leadership must also convey the value and expectation of having skilled and well-trained managers. More than anything, new managers must be developed over time with quality opportunities for learning how to manage and lead people, or how to satisfactorily resolve problems with or among direct reports.