Here are steps you can take to identify, develop, and support leadership and management trainees.
Great leaders are difficult to come by. Horror stories about abusive managers and poor workplace conduct seem far more common than instances of fair treatment.
Here’s the thing: capable managers do not have to be rarities. If you’re in a management position of any kind, you have a direct hand in shaping current and future leaders in your organization. As an HR manager, part of your job is keeping the management training process as smooth and effective as possible.
Good managers possess specific qualities that make them better fits for leadership positions. It’s part of why staying with a company long-term doesn’t always guarantee promotion or advancement; some people aren’t ideal leaders and that’s OK.
As a manager, you have more pull in your organization. What you say and do carries weight. That’s part of the deal. Sure, it’s nice to have some input and influence on your company’s operation and trajectory, but with your role comes enormous responsibility. A big part of that responsibility is being able to recognize leadership qualities in others.
But say you have spotted an employee with great leadership potential and you want to promote them. You may be asking yourself, “What are specific things I can do to help this person become the best leader they can be? How and where do we need to train them?”
Don’t worry if you don’t know the answers! We’ve put together a handy guide to help you begin.
Emphasize self-awareness in management trainees
Being able to take note of your own behavior is everything. It’s part of why self-awareness is such an invaluable trait. For most people, it’s a skill that takes years to learn. When training new managers, make a point to look for how they are self-aware.
Look for managers who practice and value self-awareness.
Awareness enables you to adjust your approach. Look for managers who practice and value self-awareness. Hire people who are open to becoming more self-aware. Without it, they will make the same mistakes over and over again.
Define your metrics for management training
If you want to improve your management training, you need to get specific about what qualities you’re after. Figure out what you value most in a good leader and write it down. Be intentional and thorough. This will help you build training programs and protocols that can weather periods of stagnation or strife.
The idea behind this particular piece of advice is that you have to know what you want out of your managers before you can demand or expect anything of them. Be clear with yourself and your team about what leading really means.
Foster emotional resilience in company leaders
This is a big 1. As a manager, you should expect to be challenged. Your team wants to see how you solve problems and respond to difficult situations. More than that, they want to see that you have enough emotional resilience to weather tough situations.
A common challenge that all leaders must face is change. A leader sets the tone, especially during times of change. That tone can give way to panic and fear, or it can inspire your team to take decisive action and chart a clear path forward.
Often, good leaders will prove themselves worthy of management before they’re ever promoted. They might nudge their coworkers toward better work habits. They may offer encouragement and support without any prompting from a superior.
During training, throw hypotheticals at them and see how they might react in certain management-related situations.
Value the journey of leaders-in-training
You’ve probably heard the expression, “It’s about the journey, not the destination,” or something to that effect. This saying continues to make its rounds in business, philosophical, and personal discussions because it contains universal wisdom.
You may be asking, “But how does one reconcile that with actual results? Does the ultimate goal not matter at all in the end?” The answer to both is that while the ultimate goal still matters a great deal, progress and development should be considered equally important.
“I don’t care how it gets done. Just do it” is rarely helpful or healthy. How your team carries out its duties is a process in which you must be actively involved. You may not need to be involved every day (especially if you oversee multiple departments) but you do need to stay abreast of how and when things are getting done. Documenting every process makes this easier.
A great way for you to instill this value in your leaders-in-training is by focusing more on your processes and systems than on reaching specific sales goals. Instead, you want to illustrate how following your processes and systems produced that result.
Be selective about who’s teaching management trainees
The person you select to lead your training (if it’s not you) is key to its success. Without an instructor who can keep trainees interested, involved, and engaged, there is little chance your management training program will have any impact.
With that in mind, you need to be selective. Don’t hand the responsibility to the first person who asks for it. Be deliberate about your pick and, just as importantly, be able to voice to them (and your co-managers) why this particular person is right for the job.
Introduce the concept of debriefing in training
You may be wondering what a debrief is. Put simply, it is the process of adjusting plans and improving projects as people are carrying them out.
It is still true that failure is one of the greatest teachers we will ever have. However, past successes can also speak volumes about where you’re at and where you could be. Debriefing can help you learn from past successes by having you examine what worked before. From there, you can amend and adjust as you’re executing your plans.
Introduce this concept in your training so that incoming managers can expect it to be part of the process.
Work leadership trainees smarter, not harder
For great leaders, working smarter means learning things such as better delegation, an emphasis on efficiency, and being open to more effective strategies.
The potential of your company (and your employees) grows tenfold if you find innovative ways to cut time spent doing menial or mundane tasks.
The potential of your company (and your employees) grows tenfold if you find innovative ways to cut time spent doing menial or mundane tasks. On the HR side, software such as HR point solutions are great at streamlining processes and decreasing busywork.
Welcome feedback and suggestions from incoming managers
Every management training session should end with a lengthy dialogue between you and the incoming manager. Ask them questions. Be genuinely interested in where they come from and what they offer. Nurture an environment where your trainees feel safe and comfortable enough to ask questions and voice concerns.
Being open to suggestions and constructive feedback also shows flexibility and humility. It also makes our next tip that much easier to use.
What’s your biggest 2022 HR challenge that you’d like to resolve
Answer to see the results
Discuss 360-degree reviews during management training
Piggybacking off the feedback advice above, we want to discuss 360-degree reviews. These can be game-changers if implemented properly. Basically, a 360-degree review is the process of having managers and employees assess each other’s performances. 360-degree reviews can be just as valuable during training as they are on the job.
It’s just as important for leaders to receive and implement feedback as it is for them to review others. It’s all part of fostering a transparent and flexible internal culture.
Improving your management training is often challenging, but it’s worth it. There are so many dysfunctional management teams that assembling a group of high-performing leaders can seem impossible. We’re here to tell you it’s not. If you take the right steps and put more thought and effort into how your managers are trained, you are far more likely to get the results you want.