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Turning Technical Experts into Good People Managers
An organisation had over the years promoted experienced technical staff to positions of management and team leadership, based on their technical expertise and results, without providing them with a framework for management development. A skills gap in people management responsibilities was causing high staff turnover and a generally atmosphere of demotivation and a lack of responsibility.
When the HR department was confronted with complaints about team management and performance, more complex issued surfaced:
- Micro-management: Not being trusted as a team member, as everything was checked and double checked even though the supervised team were professionals in their own right
- Flat learning curve: Staff were not learning anything, because all technically complex matters were attended by the Manager directly
- Slow work progress: Projects progressed very slowly as the Manager was a bottleneck, as he/she wanted to be involved fully in everything
When CTP Stepped in...
CTP were chosen as a training provider, to devise a management development course that would tackle these issues and build new managers' people management skills.
CTP trainers conducted a series of interviews with the newly appointed managers and discovered that none of them had had any introductory training in management or the skills needed to coordinate a team.
They also felt pressured and overburdened by daily work, especially for not receiving the right support from their staff. Generally speaking, two poles of debate when bringing up management development solutions:
Group A: They did not see themselves fit to be managers, but accepted promotion nevertheless, because of an increased salary. They were not enthusiastic about training that could make them better in the new role. In a nutshell, they would rather not to manage people at all.
Group B: They were open to delegating tasks, and placing more trust in their team. They accepted the thought that they may not always have the best solution to a problem. They were open to learning something more to support them in the new role and realised the benefits this could bring.
CTP recommended that the organisation did not force group A to undergo the training, but looked for a change of perspective from these people, while Group B proceeded with training.
If after this step no change was apparent, then they should consider whether it would worth to the firm to create a “Senior specialist” position for them and remove their people management responsibilities.
In the meantime, CTP designed the management development programme for Group B that would give them the skills and on-going support as they gained skills and applied them.
This was organised as a foundation course which was delivered over 3 days at a hotel, to detach delegates from the workplace and allow them to concentrate on the learning. The metrics for the success of the programme were a reduction in turnover, absenteeism and complaints to HR.
CTP's programme gave them an understanding of:
- How to vary leadership styles according to situation
- The difference between a manager and a leader, and its relevance to the business
- Individual changes needed to help the manager become a leader
- Practical ways to motivate people and achieve business objectives through enhanced performance
- Activities that can help them establish their leadership credibility
- Performance management tools that can enhance productivity and performance
- How to design and deliver informative and relevant business presentations
- The importance of setting business goals and objectives
Practical exercises were undertaken to prove that teamwork is more likely to be right than individual work. These showed the value of everyone’s input to problem solving.
A realistic action plans for practising learning in the workplace were made and committed to, and the training consultant was available for consultation if problem arose.
A follow-up 1-day review session was run 3 and 6 months after the original training programme, to share experiences, both good and bad, and to debate and resolve ways of solving them.
Nine months after CTP's training programme was delivered no one had left from the teams where the manager had undergone training. There was generally a much more positive atmosphere. However, turnover had continued in the Group A. Following this, HR decided to take action with those Managers to create the new Senior Specialist role and promote people who were ready to undergo the foundation course.
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