Hiring New Managers – Avoid the Big Mistake!
When I work with managers to develop their leadership competencies one thing always stands out; this stuff should be common sense. And it is common sense, the problem is – it’s only common sense to some of us and that’s because of how we appoint managers in the first place.
Not all managers are leaders
We have to put ourselves in the mind of a new manager who is potentially feeling under pressure to prove they were the right choice for the role; both to those who appointed them and to co-workers who may disagree with the decision.
The appointment to a managerial role brings about a challenge many are encountering for the first time. Previously the measure of their success was their own individual performance, but now they must come to terms with a shift in dynamic whereby the measure of their success is the success of their team.
Leadership is a position of service but that is both service to the business and service to the team. Desperate to impress, a new manager who rides into town making bold changes to set the tone or lay down their authority while reviewing performance and setting targets will not endear themselves to their people.
The most important step for a new manager is to build relationships
Our leadership development training and coaching is geared toward just that; encouraging new managers to consider their impact, build relationships and balance the concern for results with concern for people. By doing that it will put them in a far stronger position to achieve those results for the longer term and on a more sustainable basis.
The age old debate of whether leaders are made or born rages on, but my own take is it doesn’t really matter what you were born with if you don’t actually want to use it. You could have the natural flair to be the most inspirational leader in the world, but if you’ve been burnt before and you now don’t trust or want to work with people that’s not going to count for much is it?
Whether leaders are made or born is irrelevant anyway because the fact is that most of our workplaces are made up of people holding formal/ official leadership positions whether they’re right for them or not. We’ve seen somebody do a job well and assumed they’d be great at managing others to do it; but that’s not the case and it’s the most common flaw when it comes to hiring managers.
In fact we often take people away from what they’re really good at to put them in a management role they’re not cut out for
But these are the circumstances we find ourselves in, so we need to focus our efforts on doing something to enable those already in the roles to be the best they can be.
The formal leaders in our businesses, those with the authority to lead through status or job title, have come upon those positions for a variety of reasons. That could be:
- They want more money
- They want the status and gravitas of being more senior
- They’ve been pressured into taking the role by their employer
- Their spouse would kill them if they didn’t take it for financial reasons or otherwise!
- Then there’s the few who genuinely have a passion/ career goal for leading a team
Our business culture assumes that management roles are a promotion when in fact they’re really just a different role that will suit and appeal to a certain type of person with a specific skill-set and the right motivation. What results is a mass clamber to get to the top whether it’s right for the individual concerned or not. Often that leads to poor performance, increased stress, reduced job satisfaction and burn-out from those who get the ‘promotion’; never mind the impact on the team!
So what can we do to avoid this situation?
Stop hiring managers just because of their ability to do the job they will now manage others to do and start hiring people with passion, motivation and ideas for getting the best out of a team
Yes knowledge is important, but the moment a manager becomes a manager they begin a process of getting further away from their previous role; and that’s natural because they’re not doing it every day! They don’t always have to have the answer when there’s a problem, what they need is to know where to get the answer or who can help. A leader will have key roles for everyone in the team, utilising their strengths and identifying subject matter experts so they know who they can turn to when they need. Their job now is to nurture and develop, support and encourage their team to be all they can be – not do it for them.
Unfortunately often new managers are so task focused that we lose the impact they could and should be making on their team. There’s two common reasons for that:
- They can’t let go, taking it upon themselves to fix every problem thus denying their team members the opportunity to learn and grow.
- The business missuses them to its own detriment, focusing their remit on things like managing operational processes and workflows as opposed to setting objectives, having regular one to ones, coaching and supporting people.
So how can we avoid this?
- Hire people for these roles who have passion for working with and developing others, ideas for how to lead and get the best from a team, a Vision for what they want their team to be and the skills to help them fulfil it
- Ensure their remit allows them to make that happen and doesn’t bog them down in other things!
And what can we do about those already in the roles? Train them, coach them, support them and give them the same focus you expect them to give to their team. If they haven’t experienced it, they’re less likely to ensure anyone else does!
Vibrant Talent Development work with organisations to help create great places to work. We do that through tailored, engaging, outcomes driven learning interventions that make a difference.
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