The Key to Great Managers

/ Best Practices, Human Resources, Orbit Solutions

Too often, companies today are accustomed to mediocre management. However, considering the significant influence managers have on a company’s success, this is not an area that any organization should overlook.

In spite of this, nearly 70 percent of managers recently stated they are uncomfortable communicating with employees, so it’s safe to say most managers could be more effective. The good news is, with the right training and preparation, you can develop skills in your managers to ensure they communicate and engage employees better than the rest.

Here are key steps you should take to pave the way for great managers.

Set them up for success.

Successful employees are often promoted to management before they’re ready. While some of those employees may have strong leadership potential, they don’t become strong managers without training. And furthermore, good employees don’t necessarily make good managers. Before promoting employees to management, take the following preparations:

  • Identify leadership qualities. Many organizations promote employees to management roles based on individual performance or tenure within a company, rather than taking their leadership skills into account. When considering who to promote to management, pay attention to how your employees work with others. Do they take initiative? Are they problem solvers? Do they create strong relationships with teammates and clients? Make sure they have strong communication skills, as this is one of the best indicators of management potential.
  • Do a test run. Once you identify potential management candidates, give them informal leadership duties to see how they perform. Have them lead a special group project and evaluate their performance. Do they communicate well with the group? Are they assertive in making decisions? Can they facilitate compromise while still reaching the end goal? By giving them a taste of what a leadership role looks like, you can gauge whether they’re suited for it.
  • Set up a pre-management track. If you have employees that exhibit leadership potential, groom them for management by teaching them necessary skills to be successful. Help them develop their communication skills by leading presentations or small group sessions. Consider sending them to leadership conferences and creating a mentorship program so they can develop their management skills before formally taking on more responsibility. If they have this training early on, they’re more likely to be prepared and confident when they eventually step into a leadership role.

Make an ongoing investment.

Once you promote employees to management roles, they’ll need formal training. However, one-time training isn’t enough. To maximize the impact and productivity of your managers, consider the following ongoing efforts:

  • Incorporate communication training. Provide comprehensive management training, which includes the development of soft skills like relationship building and effective communication. Managers don’t inherently possess fine-tuned communication skills; they need coaching to feel comfortable addressing personnel issues and motivating employees. Since manager communication is fundamental to overall employee engagement, it must be a core component of any ongoing training efforts.
  • Manage your managers. As with any employee, managers need guidance and feedback to succeed in their role. Have regular touchpoints with your managers to set goals, evaluate their performance and provide leadership coaching. In addition to one-on-one meetings, make sure you’re modeling the leadership behavior you’d like them to emulate with their team. Remember, you’re a role model for your managers, and your values and behaviors set the standard.
  • If necessary, implement a performance improvement plan. If a manager isn’t meeting expectations or adequately supporting their team, you may need to consider a performance improvement plan. While performance improvement plans are serious, don’t position them as a negative thing; they’re an opportunity to improve. In your plan, describe the recurring performance issues and create clear, attainable goals with a set timeframe for them to achieve those goals. By doing this, you’re giving them a clear-cut idea of what they need to fix, and helping them to succeed.
  • Consider alternative career tracks. If a performance improvement plan isn’t effective for your manager, re-evaluate their position. Not everyone is cut out for management, and that’s okay. It’s possible that some employees are better suited as an individual contributor. If that’s the case, they may be happier moving out of management anyway. Discuss ways they can advance their career without pursuing a management track. Figure out what’s best for them, and best for your company as a whole.

Arm managers with the tools they need to communicate.

While training is critical to shaping great managers, you must also give them the tools and technologies they need to communicate with employees. With Orbit Solutions, you can improve employee-manager communication by making it faster, easier and more accessible. To find out more about how our solution can enhance your interoffice communication, check out this recent blog post!