Almost all managers (98%, in fact) believe employees should have had more training in professional development, conflict resolution, time management and other skills before they became managers, says research by Grovo recently published on Forbes.com.
Since it often falls to us to train employees for future managerial roles, it seems we’re falling short in equipping them with the complex and intangible skills they need to become proficient managers.
If we’re approaching managerial training by throwing employees to the wolves and hoping for the best, we’ll continue to get disappointing results – especially if we expect to promote from within.
Good training tells employees that they – not you – should steer their own course to top pay and promotions. Plus, it encourages employees to stick around. They’ll think, “Hey, my manager thinks I could be a good manager, too!”
And since managers tend to get credit for consistent employee retention, that will reflect well on you.
So how do top resourceful managers train their future peers?
Here are seven steps that can help:
1) Don’t Give Up That Mentoring Program
If your managerial mentorship program is starting to grow stale (or is evaporating), consider rebooting it. An effective manager mentor program should have support and buy-in from all manager-level peers to make it work.
Without the right guidance and inspiration from “elders” they trust, employees can lose sight of the overall goals of the company and how they fit in.
2) Make Available Higher Positions Known To Employees
Don’t just assume all your charges know the paths to the top. Make sure you identify possible future positions of leadership where you work.
Post information on management level positions and what the company is looking for to fill them. If employees aren’t sure about the destinations, they’ll never effectively navigate how to get there.
3) Talk ‘Leadership’ Early And Often
You don’t have to dump the idea of becoming a manager on employees in their first year. But give them an idea of where they can go from the time they start.
Remind employees regularly – not just at review time – that they can reach for something higher.
4) Make Performance Reviews Mean Something
Even resourceful managers admit they dread performance reviews. The faster they’re done and out of the way, the better. But by focusing on a litany of busy work (“Employee grasps fundamentals of filing: check”), we leave zero impression on employees that they can aspire to anything greater.
Data collected from more than 20,000 employees revealed they were more likely to feel positive about their development if their manager did an engaging review of their performance, provided them regular feedback and gave them some stretch assignments.
5) Promote Learning Opportunities
This could be anything from continuing education classes that relate to the job or periodic in-house “refresher” courses. If your company uses them, make sure your employees are motivated to attend at least a few sessions. (Making it mandatory can backfire if it’s time-consuming and keeps employees from getting their work done).
Consider offering an added bonus for attendance; small prizes, a completion certificate or a mention on their performance reviews are all simple perks.
Emphasize to employees that taking continuing education or in-house learning sessions isn’t about earning brownie points, it’s about preparing them for more challenging and rewarding positions.
6) Give Them A Shot
When you sense they’re ready, give employees a chance to take the reins on a project or a regular duty that’s of some importance. Employees who feel like you trust them to get things done will appreciate it and begin to think in terms of “responsibility = leadership.”
Experience shows that once employees are encouraged to develop new skills, their contribution generally increases. The most effective managers take time to discuss development plans and challenge team members to accomplish longer-term goals.
7) Point Out When You Do Something Wrong (Seriously)
If you’re honest and open about mistakes or miscalculations you make, you give employees a chance to learn how to avoid those mistakes before they’re in charge of something similar.
It also teaches them to accept that failures happen, how to be gracious under pressure, and the importance of reflecting on what they can do better next time.
Have one tool you use that helps employees look toward possible management positions? Share in the comments section!
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As someone who has benefitted from programs that turn employees into great managers, I loved this article. Thanks for sharing it, Lisa. And when I became a manager, I also felt that employees deserve better training in time management, conflict resolution, and professional development (among other skills) before moving into such a position. I’d been reading about leadership and management for most of my life, but I still didn’t feel prepared in my first managerial role. Today, I’m working with my team on a new manager training program. I have the opportunity to let my past lessons on this topic influence future training that other employees will receive. You get the managers you train in most cases, so if you’re not focusing on excellent training, why would you expect excellent managers? My first mentor changed my entire life, so I was happy to see that as your first point here. More companies need to capitalize on mentoring programs, especially in our new socially distanced professional landscape. And your employees will be more likely to take advantage of these programs when they know about future positions they could apply for. That’s what sparked me forward! Anyway, thanks again for sharing this article, it’s saved for later.