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Developing Effective Managers and Potential Leaders (Conclusion)

Training your team members for your drycleaning business and for their lives

CHICAGO — Companies who empower their employees not only see better production and efficiencies, but also have a better chance of retaining their team members, which in today’s tight labor market is essential for success.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recently held a webinar on the topic of methods companies can use to build up leadership skills in their employees. The discussion, “Two Paths: Developing Effective Managers and Potential Leaders,” was conducted by Sharlyn Lauby, president of ITM Group, a training and human resources consulting firm that focuses on helping companies retain and engage talent, and the author of the HR Bartender newsletter.

In Part 1 of this series, we defined the differences between management and leadership, and why they’re both important. In Part 2, we explored how companies can build leadership training into the employee experience. Today, we’ll conclude by examining the role of training in your staff’s development.

Assessing All Employees for Leadership

Lauby believes that one of the benefits of including leadership concepts for every employee is that it becomes that much easier to build up the next generation of leaders.

“If organizations spend time providing leadership development to everyone throughout the employee lifecycle,” she says, “then anyone who’s being considered for a management role will already have exposure to leadership training. Then, the focus of your management development program becomes the functions of management.”

Lauby warns that just because someone is good at their position doesn’t mean they’re ready for a leadership role from the start.

“One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve seen organizations make is that they take the most technically competent person, and they promote them into a position of management,” she says, “and often they do not give that person all the other skills that they need in order to be successful.”

The solution, in Lauby’s opinion, is to bake leadership skills into every aspect of management, so the learning curve isn’t so steep when the time comes. 

“The definition of leadership as being the ability to influence, meaning that everybody has the potential to be a leader,” she says, “so, we should be providing leadership training to everyone.”

Management Development for the Job and for Life

For Lauby, the question about management becomes what management development training should look like when it comes to developing potential leaders.

“If we remember the definition of management as being planning, organizing, staffing, directing and controlling,” she says, “then some of the types of training that could be really helpful include how to create goals and how to set goals.”

Lauby believes this type of training can be useful to employees both in their personal lives and on the job. 

“We don’t always get formalized training on how to set goals,” she says. “As part of the onboarding process, the organization can give employees training on how to set goals on a personal level. And then, you can add to it and say, ‘This is how you take the goals that you’ve set on a personal level and use that model in order to develop goals for the organization.’”

This can be done in areas including budgeting, scheduling and project planning, all three of which have personal and professional aspects. 

“How do managers learn how to create a budget?” Lauby asks. “Is there a formalized budgeting class or program that they can go through to make sure that budgeting is happening in a consistent manner? How do managers learn about scheduling — how to schedule employees to make sure that they have enough employees to cover a shift? If they’re involved in a project, how do managers learn how to map out that project and make sure that they have the right number of people and resources when they need them?”

Another element of management that should be part of a company’s DNA is that of the onboarding process, Lauby says.

“Do we have a program that teaches managers how to onboard employees?” she asks. “In my experience, employee onboarding from the manager’s perspective was only as good as the manager’s onboarding process. If a manager had a really good onboarding process, they did a great job of onboarding employees. If they didn’t necessarily do a great job, it wasn’t a great onboarding experience. They didn’t know. So, is there a way we can teach managers how to onboard members of their team?”

An effective manager is also a coach to their team, Lauby says, “in terms of supporting them, letting them know what they’re doing really well, or talking with them about how they take their performance to the next level.”

Knowing what to look for is another area that needs to be taught so managers can be effective. 

“Where do managers learn about data, analytics and evaluation?” Lauby asks. “This is the data that’s important to the company. This is how you look at it. This is how you evaluate it.” 

Lauby tied part of her own experience into this point. 

“When I first became a manager, one of the things that the organization expected of me was to learn how to read the financials,” she says. “I sat down with the CFO, and the CFO walked through, not just how to read a P&L statement, because I knew how to do that, but where everyone looks on the P&L first. ‘This is the number that they look at so that when you go into a meeting, you are looking at the same things that everybody else is looking at.’”

On-the-Job Training

“Sadly, sometimes, the way managers learn these things is they learn it by making a mistake,” Lauby says. “Somebody takes them aside and says, ‘Well, you made a mistake, and this is how you do it.’ Wouldn’t it be even more effective — wouldn’t it be fantastic — if we figured out how to tell managers how to do these things before they made a mistake?”

When there’s little-to-no internal mobility to move people into new positions, Lauby says, this type of training can still take place. 

“You might want to think about training components that are a bit more individualized,” she says. “Maybe this is on-the-job training, or it’s a self-paced program.

Lauby believes that making team members feel more empowered in their job, even if they aren’t in what would be considered a management position, is key to operating a healthy business.

“According to the Harvard Business Review, companies that build training into their culture are 92% more likely to develop better products and processes, they’re 52% more productive and they’re 17% more profitable,” she says. “And, according to Forbes, 65% of people say that if their company doesn’t offer skills development, they’re more likely to leave. So, not only does developing a strong learning culture benefit the business, but it keeps people engaged with the organization.”

The Way Forward

Given this information, Lauby believes the path is clear for business owners who are worried about the labor market and their place in it.

“Leadership and management are two totally different things, and that’s OK,” she says, “and they’re both important. So, organizations should consider how they’re going to build leadership learning opportunities and management learning opportunities into their employee experience.”

For Part 1 of this series, click HERE. For Part 2, click HERE.

Developing Effective Managers and Potential Leaders

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Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Dave Davis at [email protected].