Leaders Can Show The Way

Change begins with leadership. Leadership sets the tone and shows the way. How your leaders think will cast the mold for the rest of the organization.

    It must be clear to others that your organization’s leaders believe that management capability is an asset worth time and resources. Where leaders demonstrate this through their own behaviors, the organizations will have corresponding success. Having leaders publicly recognize individuals for outstanding team management (as opposed to personally exceeding business goals) will set the tone for the importance the organization places on the role of the manager in delivering results.

    When leaders spend time with their direct reports, setting clear goals and expectations, providing feedback and actively working to build bench strength in the organization, they are setting expectations for how others will act. Take Jack Welch during his GE days. He spent a great deal of his personal time both developing his own successor ( Gman says: I’ve preached for years that you should always be training your replacement) and developing leadership capability throughout the organization by participating the GE’s management development programs. As a consequence, GE is constantly cited as having one of the best leadership development programs in the world. This happened because the senior leadership believed in the value of its leaders and made investments to insure they could deliver their maximum capability.
Also, leaders are the ones who primarily create an organization’s fundamental beliefs, values and culture. Where leaders go astray, organizations often follow. Creating a powerful culture takes time. But leaders can play a powerful role in establishing the outward signs of culture and behaviors that they both embody and endorse.

Communication: Keeping everyone on the same page
    Organizations tend to undervalue communication. But communication plays a powerful role as the vehicle through which leaders demonstrate and publicly recognize the desired behaviors in the organization. How leaders talk about managers sets a clear message for what is expected in the organization. Strong communication systems can help organizations build strong cultures and enhance performance.

Competencies: The essential building blocks
    Identifying the critical competencies that make managers successful in your organization is the first step in creating the new manager role. New managers who are hired and current employees who are promoted into management roles must be selected because they have the capability to deliver on key functions of this role. These competencies include such skills as setting goals that fit the business strategy, providing coaching and feedback to others and helping employees understand how they fit into the big picture.

    Often promotions are given because someone is a good individual contributor. Good technical skills are a far cry from good management skills. We need alternative career structures if the only way to move up in the organization is to become a manager. Not all great individual contributors make great managers. By having management competencies defined within an organization we can also coach and develop individuals on how to improve in these specific areas.

Measuring, rewarding and reinforcing
    It’s a cliché, but it’s true: That which gets measured and rewarded gets done. If you don’t include management competencies and results for such areas as reduction in turnover or developing staff to improve organizational bench strength in performance appraisal systems, managers will not focus on these issues. Organizations that reward their managers for being good managers will stand the greatest chance of building strong management capability over time. Rewards do not need to take the form of money. In fact, simple public recognition of strong management skills sends a message to the rest of the organization: Managers are important to us.

Organization structure: The key symbol
    When organizations design jobs so that managers must spend 90 percent of their time doing non-management work, we send a very clear message about how we view the management aspects of a manager’s role: They are not important. We need to redesign organizational structures to support managers so they can truly manage the talent within the organization.
By involving your leaders, crafting key messages, developing managers and examining the current messages managers receive about their role in managing others, HR leaders can change how managers are viewed, and how they view themselves.
 The process of building better managers is not fast or cheap. But the rewards can be substantial and well worth the effort.

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

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