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The True Cost of Not Training Managers

When you promote somebody to a management role or just ask them to take on a few supervisory duties, it can be so tempting to think, Well, I wouldn’t have asked them if they couldn’t do it, and just leave them to it; trusting that they’ll get the hang of it.

But a new report from the CPD Real-life leaders: closing the knowing-doing gap backs up what we all know really, which is that if you drop somebody in at the deep end, there’s going to be an awful lot of messy splashing about.

Research shows…

Astonishingly (or maybe not), the CIPD report shows that more than a third of line managers have received no training for their role. Hardly surprising then that all too often, management and leadership responsibilities are edged out by short-deadline administrative tasks.

What’s more, in cases where the organisation received poor feedback about managers’ performance, 28% took no action; presumably leaving the problems to reoccur.

However, more and more (in 24% of responses), line managers are being expected to take a more strategic leadership view, balancing the longer term needs of the employer organisation with the individual needs of team members.

Under such ‘conflict’ situations, it’s training and experience that count and when many managers have neither, damaging compromises are likely to result; especially when there is little consistency of message concerning what the organisation might expect of the manager. 

The modern line manager

The role of the front line manager has evolved greatly over the years and basic workload supervision now seems the lightest and easiest of their duties.

There is increasing pressure on managers to ‘lead’, to take a strategic view, to focus on the macro of contributing to organisational performance while managing the micro of individual efforts.

What’s more, from the employee point of view, the immediate line manager is the employer, the representative of all things organisational and corporate. Not surprising that recent research suggests that when it comes to making a crucial difference to employee engagement, line managers carry 80% of the load.

How well do you support your managers?

Whatever supervisory and/or line management positions exist in your organisation, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is the role and its responsibilities clearly-defined?
  • Is the structure of the organisation or company loose and flexible enough to allow them to lead when necessary, or is it overly hierarchical, dependent on submissions and permissions?
  • Where does the accountability lie?
  • When training is provided, what support is there to apply the theoretical classroom learning to the practical working environment?

When it comes to managing the business, there is often more of a burden on first line managers and supervisors than may be at first apparent. ‘In at the deep end’ can be a fatal management development strategy.

Remember, sometimes it’s a case of, not waving, drowning.


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