AABP Award 728x90

Developing the manager within


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There is one nice thing about working and living in America – OK, actually there are a few nice things. But one in particular is an individual’s ability to pursue his or her dream. With the right determination and skills, someone who starts in the mailroom could someday end up in the CEO’s office. Or someone who starts on the manufacturing floor a few years later ends up being the production manager running the floor.

There are tons of examples of how this plays out daily in America’s work force. The only requirements to participate are to have a dream, a solid work ethic and the right attitude. Although, with these scenarios there is a problem that might not be evident at first but eventually becomes more apparent.

The problem is twofold. First, companies believe that because someone is great at one thing, he or she will be great at another. For example, some companies believe that if someone is great at sales, he or she should be the sales manager. That is terrible thinking, because it assumes that the person would be a great manager of people. In the case of sales, if people are great at selling, let them sell and leave them where they are.

The second complication, and probably the bigger one, is the lack of training that goes along with moving somebody into a position of overseeing people. Some companies have recognized this and do well in training and acknowledging their up-and-coming leaders. The majority, however, promote without a thought about giving that new manager any real management training.

Yahoo! Inc. did a study last year that found that people leave managers, not jobs. I think that is absolutely true. I do not fault the managers, as they are only doing the best with what they know. Every company should think about putting together a program that trains managers in how to deal with people. I also think it is a good idea to have quarterly refreshers and cover new topics or trends in people management. One of the best examples I have seen was from a company that assigned a mentor-manager to anyone promoted into a management position. It provided someone to bounce ideas off of and an outlet for feedback.

Times are tough right now; companies by and large have to do more with less staff, including fewer managers. Now is a great time to up-skill and work with your managers, making sure they have the soft skills needed to drive teams through tough times as well as great times. Making this type of investment is not only good for the morale of the managers, but it is also good for the morale of the teams they manage.

Ultimately, it shows you believe what most companies say – people are our most valued resource. In times of high layoff trends and future uncertainty, that is definitely a message worth sending.

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