We’ve all heard the phrase ‘our employees are our most important resource’ or some version of this. Most companies are in agreement with this (sometimes customers are stated as most important but employees are usually a very close second). It’s true that without employees, you can’t get critical functions accomplished and you wouldn’t have a business, but I think that managers are a very overlooked critical resource within an organization. In larger organizations, there is often a budget set aside for management development but the vast majority of growing companies don’t have this luxury. Often, managers are promoted for technical prowess, or hired from the outside, and organizations don’t devote time or money to growing these people. Failing to grow your managers always results in your leaving money on the table and not just any money, either, but pure profit.
There are several areas where it’s important to work with managers but financial/business training, interviewing and hiring, performance management and succession planning are the areas where failure to invest in your management team WILL result in problems for you. It’s also important for managers to have a basic understanding of labor law compliance; at least in terms of knowing what problem areas are and when to ask for help. If your managers had a better understanding of each of these areas, your business would be virtually guaranteed to be more successful.
I’ve only met a handful of business owners who didn’t agree that their managers would benefit from being developed in these areas. The ones that don’t typically are the types of people who want to control everything and don’t truly want managers to ‘manage’ anything. Everyone else almost always agrees it’s necessary, but they don’t perceive that they have the time or resources to invest in their team. And they’re not wrong to be cautious. Cookie cutter ‘management training’ is not the solution for many smaller and medium sized businesses. In fact, many managers HAVE read the management books, attending the seminars and/or even gotten the degree. But that’s not what will transform your business.
For your managers to be truly effective, they have to get the relevant information AND learn how to apply it to their employees and business segments. Not many first time managers can read “Good to Great” and turn that into an actionable plan. No, most of these folks are struggling with much more tactical challenges. How do they make sure they don’t hire another deadweight employee? How can they address the fact that their star performer is not playing well with others? What should they communicate to the team about the pending slow down? How can they cut over time but still maintain output? THESE are the problems real life managers struggle with every day and there’s a very slim chance they will ever feel comfortable telling their boss that they don’t know the answer to these questions.
Targeted training and coaching can provide the competitive advantage needed to overcome these obstacles and many more. This intervention deals with your managers in your environment with your specific problems and teaches managers how to find and apply solutions. The result is more effective, confident managers which will always be felt by the employees. So before you spend another dime on management training make sure this will really help your managers deal with the real problems they’re facing and not just textbook examples.
So if you are a growing business, first of all, congratulations! Second, don’t beat yourself up for what you might not be giving your managers, but think about outsourcing this very critical business function. Your managers, employees, customers will thank you…not to mention your peace of mind, and bottom line.
Carrie Maldonado is the founder of Limitless HR Solutions, a Seattle-based management consulting firm devoted to helping business owners fall back in love with their businesses. A certified executive coach, seasoned Organizational Behavior Management Practitioner and Senior HR professional, Carrie can be reached for consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org