By Russell Groves, Founder of Training Sensei
As the country propels itself out of the furlough scheme and into the fire of redundancy and restructure, many employees will find themselves being thrust into their first-time management role.
Whilst this may be a fantastic opportunity, it’s also an incredibly challenging time to don your first leadership cap. HR and senior business leaders need to be prepared to provide an extra level of support to new managers who are faced with this situation. Unfortunately, it comes right at a time when headspace and resources are at a premium.
In ‘normal’ times, one of the main pitfalls for new managers is the temptation to over-manage rather than lead. To seek to impose themselves in order to justify their position as a team leader. Whilst this remains true, there is perhaps a greater issue to navigate in the current climate.
New managers will have to absorb ambiguity and paint a reassuring picture of the future, without making false promises and losing credibility – all while never being a manager before.
Russell Groves, Founder at Training Sensei, discusses some of the skills that are most critical for new managers if they are to guide their teams through the next stage of post-covid business.
An obvious place to start is Communication. New managers are often given the management opportunity off the back of their technical capabilities in the field. The ability to translate technical knowledge into effective leadership basically boils down to a person’s communication skills. All too often new managers try to adjust their communication style to what they think senior business leaders expect. If this is at odds with their natural style then they are likely to fail. Leaders need to encourage new managers to express themselves in their own way. New managers should look to boost soft skills in communication – topics such as, motivating others, emotional intelligence, setting and meeting objectives, empathy and creating a culture of trust.
The ability to deal with uncertainty. Junior and middle managers are faced with the dilemma of being uncertain themselves in the future, but need to provide an element of structure and certainty to those the lead. They need to absorb some of the ambiguity and paint a reassuring but credible picture of the future, without losing credibility or making false promises. This is a big ask for a new manager. If a manager is overwhelmed it will manifest itself in one of three ways; trying to control the uncontrollable, procrastination or constantly seeking reassurance. Leaders need to spot these tell-tale signs, simply highlighting it can help new managers to take stock.
Performance reviews. Some members of the team may simply struggle in the current climate. The ambiguity, changes in working dynamics and dare we say, possibility of getting away with underperformance can lead to an underperformance for totally innocent reasons. Performance reviews, when used correctly are an excellent way of recognising where an employee is at, where they are contributing and where they may need additional support. Ensure your managers have a performance review mechanism they can use which is positive and primarily forward-looking. It may be a good time to have a review mechanism which isn’t particularly officious, which junior managers can use as a tool to address problems early before there is a need to make it too formal.
Innovation. This might appear a little leftfield now represents a great time to challenge old norms and try new things. Encouraging innovation is the perfect way to counteract them temptation to micro-management when things get difficult. Give your team leaders the freedom to express ideas and give them the resources to run with them. Encourage them to pass this sense of innovation on to their teams and you have one of the most powerful and infectious motivating factors working for you. Not only that but you might just find the innovations which can take your business forward.
Training Sensei provides a monthly online bootcamp service with daily challenges to complete that will help build on management skills. The personal development training can be completed as an individual or directed at teams. It is an affordable way to upskill.