I was thinking about how different a manager or team leader role is today compared to when I started my career.
My first manager was a 50-year banker who, while being very good at lending money (and getting it back), would have had difficulty with the demands of the role today. Managers and team leaders are no longer expected to only complete more advanced technical or administrative tasks; there are a range of people management issues to be dealt with also.
It’s the ‘softer people skills’ that most managers and team leaders struggle with in the places I work now. Coaching, communication, listening skills and the ability to generate enthusiasm, energy and commitment in others are not abilities that everyone has – yet these are the things we ask our managers and team leaders to do.
Take coaching for example. There can’t be too many things with the potential to demotivate employees more than a botched discussion about performance. Yet the assumption is that managers and team leader have the attributes to be effective coaches.
Thinking back, I can only remember one training session that I attended on coaching. The advice was that it is best to listen twice as much as one spoke. The coaches I see presenting at managerial conferences suggest there is more to it than that.
Organisations recognise the problem and some bring in coaches from other departments or external companies. I’m not sure about this approach as I prefer to see one leader responsible for all aspects of their team’s performance. Surely the better way is to equip managers and team leaders with the skills they need.
Organisations could do a lot worse than have ‘softer human type skills’ at the top of the list.
See also – http://bit.ly/rkkWKR