Don’t Underestimate the Role of Managers During Times of Change

    Doing the bare minimum of training and development—just enough to keep your organization within the law, and to keep from being sued—can easily lead to behaviors that damage companies’ reputations. Once damaged, a reputation takes significant time and money to restore. Some companies never really recover. Before you find yourself in a position of losing top talent or dealing with a weakened organizational reputation, you can invest in processes to improve the management capability in your organization.

    Human resource leaders are in an ideal position to influence all the elements needed to change the role of managers and to help their organizations build management capability. Many elements are needed, of course, but the first is the sponsorship of the most senior leaders to ensure buy-in and demonstrable support for the process. The rest of the elements involve your organization’s beliefs, values and culture. All of these are initiatives for change and are necessary to reinforce norms and expectations.

    Building management capability goes beyond training. It includes transforming the organization’s culture so that it values the role that management plays in attracting and retaining top talent and setting forth clear expectations for the manager’s role. As this model indicates, all organizations have an underlying set of beliefs about the importance of the manager. Organizations that have strong management capabilities believe that managers are critical for their ability to attract, retain and motivate employees. Strong beliefs influence the values of an organization, and consequently, culture.

    Each of the initiations of change in the model represents an area that organizations must consider if they want to build strong management capability. Just focusing on one trigger point of change will not bring about lasting change in management capability; the current culture will overwhelm small changes. By focusing on numerous change initiatives, organizations can modify the culture and create long-term change. Briefly, review the following considerations:

·        Leadership: An organization’s leadership must both believe in the value of the role that managers play and must lead by example.
·        Communication: The leadership team must consistently communicate the importance of the role of the manager to the organization and its ability to achieve high performance, attract talent and retain it.
·        Competencies: Management competencies must be assessed and developed. Entry into a management role must be predicated on an appropriate, although not necessarily perfect, set of skills.
·        Measurement and rewards: Any effective strategy must be integrated into the scorecard. It must be measured and rewarded.
·        Structure and symbols: The role of a manager must be structured so that the manager can spend sufficient time with direct reports. The term "manager" must mean something in terms of role expectations.
    By focusing on these valid points of change, the organization will develop new norms and expectations for behavior. The organizational beliefs regarding the management role will actually conform to what the intrinsic intention of change is encouraging: a belief that managers’ roles do make a difference.

George F. Mancuso, CPC
Client Growth Consultants, Inc.

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