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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Importance of Having a Management Development Strategy

I sometimes wonder how we are more careful of hiring an entry-level employee than promoting a person to a supervisory or managerial person.  The damage of wrong hire have already been talked about and estimated but many of us continue to take unnecessary risk in raising people to what the Peter Principle points out as their level of incompetence.

A managerial or supervisory role is so important and dealing with having the wrong person in place is so messy that I believe organizations need to have a strategy for selecting candidates for  these roles, prepare them and then continue to develop them. If John Maxwell is to be believed, everything rises and falls on them. As usual, I have some recommendations.

Use a Competency Model
Mapping the ideal competencies for important positions in your organization is very useful. It can be used to objectively assess your candidates' readiness to take on the role. It can also be used determine the needed developmental interventions for employees who are not yet ready but have the potential.

Check out exeQserve's Competency Mapping service offering here.

Consider Performance But...
We all heard this familiar horror story. A company needed a manager, promoted the best worker to a supervisory role and then ended up having a lousy one and losing a great worker. Was Phil Jackson a great basketball player? Was Freddie Roach a great boxer? I don't think so! They were above average at best. And then I've heard of really great players who made lousy coaches. There, I rest my case.

Again, Hire for Attitude, Train for Skills
This is true for recruitment as it is for promoting people to key positions.  Get people who have sound attitude about leading and management because they respond well to leadership and management development interventions. It's as common a sense as having someone who really loves math take up a major in math as opposed to someone who doesn't care about it except for counting money like myself.

Have a Way Out
Sometimes, what looks good on paper do not translate as well in real life. With all your best effort and intentions, you will realize that no management development strategy have rocket science accuracy. Your policy should enable you to recall appointment by offering the person his old position back or let the person move on. Messy, I know. This, however is so much better than enduring a deadwood manager or supervisor.

Clarify Expectations
my benchmark of a good supervisor or manager is someone who will approach me as her superior and lay down her proposals even before I figure out my own expectations.  That does not always happen, so be ready to crystalize your expectations to that person so she can act on it. Preventing them from guessing what looks good to you and what's not will save you a great deal of waiting time.

People throw away what they learned from training because they feel that they don't have the power to apply the recommended changes in the workplace.  This is also because they are not made accountable for making changes happen in the workplace. I have heard people dismiss the training as ineffective when they see no changes, when the real reason is that they did not empower the person to apply what they learned.  Okay, let me step back a bit and define my own understanding of empowerment. It is the appointment of responsibility with commensurate amount of authority and accountability to a person. Empowering a person, therefore means giving the person clear descriptions of his responsibility, limits of authority and accountability for performance and behavior at work. Making this clear to a person and then connecting the purpose of training to these responsibilities and paving the way for change to happen, makes change happen. If training is likened to learning to ride a bicycle, empowering employees is giving them the bicycle.

This blog article is inspired by recent experiences running leadership and management workshops for several government agencies and private companies. Those experiences cemented my belief that training must be anchored on a sound employee development strategy that is linked to an organizational development strategy, that is of course, also linked to organizational direction and strategies. I believe that a reasonably sized organization should have this. Put bells and whistles if you mus,t but to me what's important is having a logically framed strategy that selects, trains and empowers people to be at their best as supervisors and managers.

If establishing a Management Development Program is a challenge for you, maybe I can help. Check this out:

ExeQserve Training Consultancy Service Program

1 comment:

  1. John Maxwell is one of my favorite Christian authors. Christian leadership is still the best kind.


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