DEFINITION OF A MANAGER: “a person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff".
The COVID pandemic has affected us all but in the workplace for managers, supervisors, team leaders the changes have been fundamental.
Instead of focusing on outputs, quality, service delivery etc - the hard stuff - their roles have been extended to include a significant portion of time spent coaching and mentoring. With many organisations having staff working from home - a trend likely to continue as the UK Government are about to launch a white paper to discuss extending flexible working and working from home - the art of coaching will become a key skill for managers.
We’ve certainly seen lots of evidence over the last 18 months of managers that have struggled to motivate their staff, keep the same levels of productivity and teamworking. When they’ve contacted us, they are normally at their wits end, and losing confidence rapidly, dreading the weekly meetings or talking to the person who is not meeting targets. They are typically stressed and taking one of two stances – 'it’s my fault I can’t connect with this person' or 'it’s all their fault'. Rarely has the middle ground been an option. So, how do we move forward? Is it now time to re-assess what skills our managers and supervisors need to be successful?
If you consider a standard management training course – widely available across the country, the type that is normally 1-2 days in length - the focus is on managing the team, time management, people management (some idea of how to manage performance and disciplinary issues), decision making and delegating skills.
In our new world of working, yes, those topics are still relevant and good to know but when you’re dealing with employees that work from home the reality is that the same techniques don’t work in the same way anymore. And that, in essence, is why we have seen so many managers and supervisors stressed and anxious during this last year and a half. The skills they have, the technical knowledge they’ve acquired is difficult to share unless they have the range of communication, influencing and questioning skills that enable them to adapt their style to the person they are talking to.
Those 1-2 training days to turn them into "managers" is starting to look like a pretty lack-lustre investment, as they have only skimmed the basics of managing teams in different and difficult circumstances. They've not had the benefit of working through a range of scenarios - from managing long term absence to mental health challenges; from effectively and positively managing performance in the workplace to transitioning that conversation onto a digital medium; and, how to manage 'challenging' individuals. This isn't even looking at the core issue any manager faces = your company culture. Managers who look to change things - from how their team is organised and managed, to how they handle individual situations - can all be swept away from them by your current company culture. If support isn't guaranteed, if positive but necessary changes are accepted and rolled out, if toxic managerial practices aren't challenged - then you can kiss goodbye to your new managers.
But change can start on any day of the week. The future is here – now.
We need to make sure that our businesses and the people that work in them are versatile, resilient and above all confident. When you are constantly under pressure (in fairness some of which may be self-imposed) to improve outputs, quality, customer service etc. but are managing a team of people working from home - individuals, all with different styles and needs - we need to make sure we invest in developing coaching skills, the ability to mentor and the ability to use these skills to promote a sense of working together, all equal and invested in a joint purpose. Because ultimately this is what effective coaching and mentoring can deliver this for you and your business. But the first step starts with you - are you ready to invest into your managers and to provide them with the necessary culture of support?
If you want to change your level of investment - talk to us today - let us health check your current managerial contributions, recommend improvements and seamlessly inject a new layer of support for your managers to rely on (because everyone likes to have an expert in their pocket for those challenging times).
Another small step forwards in the continuous journey of engagement.