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Developing New Managers
Managers Learn by Being Managed Well
If you ask a good manager where he or she learned how to manage, the answer is likely to be from a manager who was important to their own career. While courses and trainings on management skills are valuable and should be used, people appear to learn the most about managing by being managed. And while a bad manager can provide valuable lessons in what not to do, people learn more about management by being managed well. Employees who are managed effectively tend to be happier and more productive. As a result, when they enter management, they want to recreate that environment for their own employees or direct reports.
Pair New Managers with Mentors
Mentoring is invaluable when developing new managers, whether they are freshly in the position or on the management track for the future. Identify the top managers in your organization, and encourage them to mentor up and coming managers. When you hire a new manager, or identify an employee with management potential, pair him or her with a manager who has a track record of effectiveness. Encourage employees who aspire to management to seek out mentor relationships with managers they admire as well. Mentoring relationships give employees a chance to see good management “in action” and also to seek feedback from someone they respect. Mentors can help provide development opportunities and can also serve as valuable sounding boards for new managers.
Reward Effective Managers
One of the surest ways to promote and reinforce effective, quality management is to reward effective managers. Recognizing and rewarding those managers who demonstrate the skills and competencies valued by the organization reinforces that good management is itself valued. When employees at all levels see effective managers being recognized and rewarded, they aspire to demonstrate the same traits they see from these individuals. Depending on your company culture, rewards for effective managers may be financial (as in raises), incentives (such as extra vacation time), symbolic (such as plaques or certificates) or a mix of the three. Finding out what motivates individual managers and tailoring the rewards is also an effective strategy. Whatever reward system you choose, take the time to not only reward effective managers but recognize their efforts in a public way.
Emulate Effective Managers
Who was the best manager you ever had? What qualities did he or she demonstrate? Managers who have been managed well often emulate behaviors and practices they’ve learned from past managers, which in turn give their own employees the experience of being managed well. Emulating effective managers whether they are currently inside your organization or not, is another way to model desired behavior and develop new managers. When working with new managers, encourage them to emulate the best traits and practices of managers they’ve had in the past, whether at your organization or another. Encourage new managers or those aspiring to management to reflect on the best bosses, supervisors, or other managers they have ever worked with. Have them list the qualities, behaviors, or practices that made them so memorable and so effective. Encourage employees to emulate these qualities, behaviors, and practices. Also encourage them to look to managers they see as effective in your organization, and identify traits of those individuals they can emulate as well.
Create and Document Best Practices
There are many ways to be an effective manager, and each organization’s culture will influence the type of management it values. Creating and documenting a set of best management practices helps to reinforce the organizational culture and serves as a resource for new managers – and indeed for all managers as they grow and develop in their careers. A best practices document need not be long or exhaustive, and it should be a living document which can change as new practices emerge as effective. Working with employees at multiple levels, identify what management practices and behaviors are consistently identified as effective, engaging, and motivating. Also review organizational policies (such as around hiring and termination) and develop a set of best practices based on these. Adopting a central set of best practices helps to ensure consistency, and also serves as another guidepost for managers as they develop and grow. Make the best practices document readily available.
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