A manager, good or bad, has a huge impact on a company in terms of costs and employee engagement and retention. And because good management skills are learned, not inherent, more companies would benefit from training every new manager, Katy Tynan, founder and chief talent strategist at Liteskip Consulting Group, said during “Avoiding a Management Disaster,” a new AMA Women’s Leadership Center webcast.
“I’m shocked at how many organizations don’t offer management training until someone becomes a manager,” she said. “If you have skilled managers, you’re going to retain more of your top performers.”
New manager, new skills
No matter how skilled a woman is at her job, when she moves into management she has to learn a whole new set of skills, Tynan pointed out. “This is not easy stuff. This is not natural for most people,” she said.
Factors that make management difficult include:
- Managers are often still doing their old job on top of now being in charge of a team.
- They may be managing their former peers, which means being vigilant against playing favorites.
- They now have to care about their team.
“If you really don’t like people, you should probably not be a manager,” Tynan said. On the other hand, “If you care about people and you care about the people on your team and their success, you will do the right things.”
Listening and learning in the management role
Tynan suggested that listening is the first thing a new manager should do. Maybe it’s a manager’s job to tell people what to do, but “when you show up as a new manager, the very first thing you should do is close your mouth,” she advised. “Listen, listen, listen. Don’t talk until you have tried to understand as much as you can.”
In fact, getting to know your team is part of Tynan’s “Five Truths About Management”—five values managers can adopt to become better leaders:
- Vision. Define the values your team shares and measure everything against those values.
- Team. Know the strengths of your team members and focus on clearing the obstacles to their success.
- Goals. Focus on the output and recognize achievement.
- Learning and adaptation. Develop the habit of learning from each day’s work and focus on growth versus perfection.
- Trust. Without trust there is no team.
Becoming a better manager is “a continuous learning process that you’re going to engage in for the rest of your career,” Tynan said. Classroom training is important, but it has to be supplemented by on-the-job experience and informal learning, especially because 80% of managers who get training go back to their old ways after six months.
After formal training, managers might want to take advantage of workshops, on-demand learning, coaching, peer networking, and other resources and tools available to them. Coaching should be with a professional outside your company—“a safe, trusted person who’s going to be able to give me guidance and also is not going to rat me out,” she said.
Managers matter, and they make a big impact. With good management, companies can achieve higher profitability, lower absenteeism, and greater productivity, Tynan said.
“It’s important work, and it’s hard work. It’s not going to be perfect,” she said. “There are resources out there to help you get better…and it does get better.”
AMA Women’s Leadership Center members can take advantage of the Leadership Learning Webinar Series, four webinars on topics of key interest to professional women. Find out about other WLC benefits and how to join.