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How to train managers to coach their teams

How do we ensure that managers are effectively pushing their teams in the right direction?
How to train managers to coach their teams

IN GREAT HANDS


How to train managers to coach their teams

What do bosses look for in a manager? Do they look for an individual with demonstratable management experience? Do they put them through the ropes to ensure that they’re going to be attentive and push their staff to achieve great things, or do they simply pick a top performer and throw them in at the deep end? Often, it’s the latter. Yet, as corporate speaker Simon Sinek regularly despairs – this system is broken.

“If you work hard, at some point you’re going to get promoted to manage those who do what we used to do,” stated Sinek at one of his various Ted Talks. “That’s why we have managers, not leaders. Just because that person has the capacity to be a manager, it doesn’t mean they should be one!” he exclaimed.

The issue this is causing

The results of a recent poll by YouGov in which 75% of respondents claimed that poor leadership could push them to leave a job reveals just how important strong management is to the workforce.

In the same study, respondents revealed that 55% had indeed actually left jobs, which they otherwise would have remained in, due to poor management and whilst strong leadership is the core of any good business, 58% noted that their boss had a severe lack of people skills, with bullying, micro-management and threatening behaviours also featuring high on the list.

These stats are compounded by research. One survey, conducted by CareerBuilder, found 58% of their respondents received absolutely no management training before being placed at the head of a team which begs the question...

…how can you lead if you aren’t trained how to do so?

It’s undeniable that the greater the size of the company, the more staff almost expect to slip through the cracks and into stagnation, yet some big firms are doing all they can to closely monitor development through effective management. One such company is McDonald’s, where Nikki Remmer, Head of Reputation and Culture, says the brand’s development programs, run by managers, are the lynchpin. “At McDonald’s we’re proud of the development we provide for our people,” she states.

“Most of our managers start work with us as crew members – learning on the job whilst also benefiting from development opportunities like our apprenticeship and leadership development programmes. This blend of on-job learning and more formal training gives them a strong appreciation and understanding of the employee experience in our restaurants. It helps them to be better leaders, mentors and coaches to their teams.” In this way, McDonald’s management not only see first-hand how to lead, but also understand implicitly how it feels from the team member’s perspective – something that is potentially lacking in other companies.

Whilst combining the experience of being a team member first-hand with official programmes to aide managers in the process seems to be an effective way of ensuring that such development is taking place, according to Molson Coors’ HR Director Adam Firby, there is no alternative to accepting that the business is going to have to trust in the authenticity of the manager. “The best line managers know themselves well, what they value and why they operate as they do,” he tells HR Grapevine.

It doesn't make sense to hire smart people to tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do

“This allows them to be authentic with their teams and build relationships with each team member. This is why we invest heavily in our Living Leadership Programme to help our line managers go on that personal journey. Coaching then becomes a critical part of how they lead but only once they truly understand themselves and each of their team members.”

Yet if trust and authenticity is at the core of that relationship, should managers be giving the same experience to their staff? According to Author and CEO of Cirrus Dr Simon Hayward, building that relationship requires a hands-off approach. “One of the central principles of effective management is that teams self-manage. To do this, teams need freedom.” He goes on to explain that this in in no way damages coaching – in fact it actually helps employee development as it offers autonomy and responsibility. “When managers adopt the principles of coaching, they empower team members to decide how they will achieve their goals, in line with overall organisational strategy. Many managers find it difficult to make this shift and to give control to others, especially if they’re trying to drive change. However, when they can devolve decision-making and responsibility more widely, it empowers others to achieve results."

Ultimately, it’s simply unrealistic to expect anyone to become a manager overnight. Inspiring commitment from a team and discovering the fine line between what Hayward calls “self-management” and veering into the territory of micro-management is both challenging, yet essential. However, those who believe that the job is done when this balance is discovered has not yet learned the golden rule; “management is like a muscle,” Simon Sinek states in his talk. “if you exercise it, it becomes strong. If you neglect it, it becomes weak!”


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