Emma Bell a partner at MacRoberts Solicitors believes that developing the people skills of managers is the key to unlocking a business’s full potential.
A company’s manager is potentially its most valuable asset, yet all too often businesses promote individuals into a management role with no effective training or support.
The inevitable result is less than effective management, which can cause workplace stress, employee attrition and poor client and customer communication.
It is a situation which can seriously reduce a company’s efficiency and competitiveness – but proper training can turn that situation around and fully realise the potential of each employee.
Training to Lead
The key is to recognise the simple truth that behaviour breeds behaviour, a workforce takes its lead from the top, and strong inspired managers will lead inspired and motivated teams. Those motivated employees are the key to any successful organisation and will think creatively, use initiative, listen and act upon feedback and perhaps most importantly, stay with the company.
Good managers can be made, as well as born, and the skills they need can be acquired through a well thought out manager development programme, which addresses not just a manager’s behaviour but the attitudes, feelings and beliefs which underlie and determine those behaviours.
The need for such management skills has never been greater. Employee expectations have fundamentally changed over the last ten years. In the past, people would work, work, work in exchange for pay, pay, pay, and that was that.
People now expect respect at work, and they expect to be valued. In addition we live in a business environment where demand for top quality employees outstrips supply, making retention of good staff a vital factor in success.
Employees don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers and one of the key elements in retaining good employees is to make sure they are managed effectively and given the support to achieve their potential. To maximise employees’ contributions to the workplace they have to be in an environment where they are motivated to participate to the best of their ability.
At the moment many British businesses are facing unprecedented international competition with the shrinking of the global community which means that such things as outsourcing contact centre work to India is becoming relatively commonplace. What is the competitive edge that our companies can bring to this marketplace? The answer is our people, and the simple truth is, if a company’s people are happy they will deliver a better service.
So what then makes employees happy? There are lots of statistics out there to show that it is no longer primarily pay. Instead, employee happiness is determined by the work environment, by the work culture and by the relationships at work, and the key responsibility for monitoring and influencing employee satisfaction lies with the manager.
Another element in the modern business environment which is placing an ever-greater premium on effective management is the increasing requirement to allow for more work-life balance. With flexible working hours, dependency leave and part-time work requests now a feature of most workplaces, the demands of the workforce require imaginative and sensitive managing.
Effective communication is at the heart of good management – without it there can be none of the rapport and trust needed to build a motivated and inspired workforce.
A comprehensive manager development programme will develop the communication skills and motivational behaviour and attitudes of a manager. It will challenge his or her most deeply held beliefs, the bedrock elements of their personality that drive their behaviour and influence the way they regard those around them.
Once those beliefs have been identified, the manager can identify those that really work for him or her and those that don’t. Managers can then be provided with a set of tools they can use to change the beliefs they want to change about themselves and about others, change the attitudes they want to change and raise awareness of their own responses. It’s about bringing consciousness to their working method.
Once managers understand their own drivers and motivators, and can see how their own behaviour influences that of others, they can begin to understand what drives employee behaviour, and that perspective can provide them with a key tool for motivating staff.
This kind of management development programme, which looks at the whole of the employment relationship, represents a dramatic break from previous “sticking plaster” approaches, but without it, companies will fail to realise the full potential of their greatest asset, and will pay the price in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.