For organizations not accustomed to empowering lower-level managers, in order to successfully make this transition, the organization must embark on a comprehensive and sound plan for developing and transitioning the front-line managers’ role. The goal of this effort is to merge skill gaps that allow managers to move from a transactional mindset to one of helping organizations achieve their organizational goals. Progressive organizations should implement creative measures for developing their line managers and supervisors. Following are five potential elements of a leading edge, manager development program.
First, the job of the manager must be redefined to include the consultative skills. This may include a redesign of the manager’s career path within the organization. Some organizations have considered dual career paths for managers, which allows some managers to continue meeting traditional and necessary needs, supporting the day to day operations of their departments, while the organization as a whole makes the transition.
In addition to defining the roles and objectives, the concept of front-line managers playing a consultative role within their organizations needs to be clearly defined in terms of the organization’s structure, mission, and function. As a result, a strategic plan for the managers’ efforts should be established, so that roles can be defined and an action plan can be developed.
Training programs should provide the framework for development of mangers who are expected to make the transition. The goal of these programs is to orient managers to the concepts of organizational management and to provide them with the opportunity to examine their own beliefs about this shift. In addition, training programs allow participants an opportunity to explore whether they are interested in taking their career in this new direction.
Likewise, front-line managers should be given the opportunity to attend a series of developmental workshops in order to hone their managerial skills. Ideally, the organization would offer these workshops internally so that the managers can explore and learn the skills together. However, smaller organizations may find it necessary to send staff members to outside sources to obtain these skills. The following list of learning topics would benefit front-line manager development.
Overview of the management process
Building rapport, credibility, and trust with employees
Employee Data Collection and Analysis
Giving Sound Feedback in Writing and Face -to -Face
Evaluating the Success of the managerial engagement
Front-line manager ethics
Facilitation and mediation Skills
The managerial development skills described above provides a framework for transitioning transactional managers into more strategic counterparts. The actual implementation of such a programs vary greatly depending on the size and the resources available to the organization.
A strong staff development program should include the opportunity for managers to receive feedback on their current management skills. A 360-degree feedback process should be used to assess their current skill levels, and such instrument should be tailored to reflect the desired management skills. As such, the organization can capitalize on individuals’ unique developmental needs in relation to becoming better consultative partners. Individual development planning allows staff members to create their own learning plans and may be used to guide the manager to reach his/her professional goals. The achievement of these plans may also be used by the organization to evaluate the manager’s progress.
To be effective in their function, managers are required to understand all processes and systems within the operation of the organizations they serve. Job rotation is an effective method for learning these systems and processes and also builds team cooperation and support among managers. The rotation of managers among the functional areas should occur every 18 to 24 months. As such the rotation may coincide with existing vacancies that occur with normal attrition. However, a commitment to job rotation will further develop the skills of the managers and will provide a deeper talent pool for the organization’s managerial staff. Job rotation is also an excellent method for developing bench strength among managers, preparing them for future leadership roles.
Lastly, developing and entrusting front-line managers with consultative tasks is still a myth for many organizations. Without a systematic approach for transitioning front-line managers to a consultative skill set, the traditional, transactional, volume-focused mindset will prevail. Organizational leaders are encouraged to develop a structured approach to help the lower-level managers make the transition. Train, develop, and guide them, as a result, the front-line managers will truly become strategic counterparts with the organization’s leadership.
By Sophia Sanchez, SPHRPrincipal Consultant – Develop For Results International Author of “The Development Alternative: Powerful Strategies for unparalleled Business Results” For more information about our Human Resource Consulting services to include workplace development programs please visit DevelopForResults.com