When it comes to Developing managers the stakes are high. Do it properly and your employees will become engaged and make your customers happy. Do it poorly and your highest potential employees will leave and your customers will suffer. Yet, despite the clear evidence of the benefits of strong, engaging managers, most companies do not do it well. Here’s the right way to approach it:
1.Get the Sustained Commitment of Leadership. Developing managers is not the job of HR, OD or Talent. It is a business priority that the business needs to own. So, start at the top. Get leadership’s unflinching commitment to make manager development a priority to which financial resources will be devoted. Start by developing a business case. It won’t be difficult; the data is compelling. If you can get strong sign-on for three years, you will have the time you need to show real results. Make sure that there is agreement on the ROI measures that will define success. The most important measures are:
-movement of net revenue per employee relative to overall movement of net revenue, and
The first measure will show that employee productivity is going up. The second will show that the increase is due to positive employee engagement and motivation, ensuring that initial productivity increases will not prove temporary as employees burn out from being pushed to hard rather than working hard and smart because they are engaged.
2.Design a Program that Includes Meaningful Classroom Training. Sure, you’ve abolished most classroom training in favor of self-paced learning and web-based approaches. But guess what, the benefit of training your managers in person far outweighs the cost. Remember, you’re training people to act a certain way and they need to experience enough role-playing of the new behaviors for these behaviors to stick. On which behaviors should you focus? Let your people tell you. Use focus groups led by business people — not HR people — and surveys to learn what’s working and what isn’t. Then, develop behavior-based profiles of high performing managers, according to employee feedback as well as performance data — using personality assessment tools. This will enable you to really nail the attributes a manager should display and pick rich, real scenarios for demos and role-playing.
3.Evaluate Managers Based on the Desired Behaviors. Don’t just pay lip service to this concept. Put real teeth in the program by assigning a 50% weight to demonstration of desired behaviors in overall manager performance scales. And, if managers don’t move the needle regularly, move them to individual contributor roles. The culture on this one needs to be Nowhere to Hide. You walk the talk or you get blackballed from the club. Here’s the interesting part, a surprising few managers will fail. Why, because they have air cover to move to the behaviors of the new culture: unwavering leadership commitment to develop great managers who will engage employees.
4. Assign Executive Coaches to Address Identified Developmental Opportunities. Invest in your best managers by addressing the few areas that will move them from very good to great. And base the coaching on formal development plans based on performance evaluations and 360 feedback. Construct a mechanism to assign baseline achievement scores to the managers for areas to be developed and compare them to final achievement scores at the end of the coaching program. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the progress.
It’s time to take manager development seriously, very seriously. You’ll be glad that you did!