Does HR Do Enough to Train Managers?

Picture this.

You just moved one of your best employees into a management role. As an employee they were smart, savvy, and socially skilled — but now they’re stressed and struggling, and so is their team.

You're six months in and the promotion is starting to look like a bad decision.

An All-Too-Common Scenario

Effective managers and supervisors make a BIG impact on the office.

In fact, according to Harvard Business Review 88% of employees with supervisor support felt “motivated to do the very best” and 86% felt satisfied with the job.

And when a manager's not working out, we feel that lack of support even more acutely.

Nine out of ten times, the manager is seen as a "bad fit" and the lack of support spreads through the office like a plague. Rather than work on it with the manager, everyone suffers in silence until they eventually end up leaving, usually full of resentment that they didn't get the support they needed either.

But the problem isn't just the manager, HR also has a role to play.

Far too many HR leaders simply assume a new manager can snap right into the job after an hour of training, or no training at all. But even if the new manager was a star performer for years before being promoted, the role of manager is vastly different from that of employee.

No matter how experienced they are, all managers need strong, consistent training and support in order to own the role of manager successfully.

Do You Have a Plan for Training Managers?

At first, it can be tricky to know how to train managers.

There are so many "off-the-shelf" solutions that work perfectly for employees, but management is a different game and it requires a whole other set of tools. HR needs a solid curriculum for onboarding new managers — and they need to work it consistently until it starts to feel like a natural part of the business.

Assess Your Current Approach (Or Lack Thereof)

Leadership trainer and expert Dan McCarthy offers some great ways to get started with training your managers. First, he recommends some “pre-work” in the form of assessing what your company's needs and goals are.

The next question is how do both your official and your unwritten policies align with those goals?

Take an objective look at your handbooks, policies and guidelines, and don't be afraid to face up to your daily practices and politics, either. If your HR mission statement says you support your people, but your entire staff complains whenever a manager seems to drop the ball, that lack of alignment will be immediately be sniffed out by your managers and employees alike.

Address the Soft Skills (Or Lack Thereof)

The skills and guidelines a new manager needs to learn will always depend on your company's unique vision and goals, but if there's one thing every manager across the board will require, it's the ability to coach others.

Interpersonal skills are absolutely critical to a manager's success. But the same skills that help employees rise through the ranks (e.g., hard work, attention to detail, ability to hit targets and deadlines, etc.) are not inherently indicative of strong emotional intelligence.

A manager simply cannot thrive in their role without the ability to deliver feedback and coach employees effectively.

Dan Schwartz, founder of the Ground Floor Leadership Institute writes that, “it is the manager’s responsibility to ask the question, ‘What can I do to make you more successful?’”. Dan recommends having new managers role-play giving constructive feedback to each other. It might feel a little silly at first, but a firm, compassionate, diplomatic manager is exactly what your employees need and want.

Teach Autonomy by Example

Managers also need to know how to delegate, organize, and step back.

Delegating can be hard to teach but modeling it by giving your manager some space to manage in their own style can be a great start.

Note that a coaching approach is crucial, especially when it comes to millennials and younger workers. Instead of telling them how to do their job, simply encourage your managers to be accountable for their own teams.

Never Leave Your Managers Hanging

Many HR leaders will give managers a two-hour training session the day before they start, then walk away.

But as HR, it's your responsibility to make sure the people come before the processes. Check in with managers at critical times throughout the year, such as before or after a major launch, performance review or business milestone.

And the next time you see someone pointing the finger at management, take a moment to think about how your managers have been trained. Do they have the space, resources, and ongoing support they need to shine in their own way? If not, the problem may be bigger than the manager.

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