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Have you ever hired a people leader that you expected great things from, but they failed to deliver? What did you do (as the business leader) to set them up for success? Did you share a realistic job preview of what they could expect as a people leader? Did you share the good, the bad and the ugly of the role and the department they were leading? Did you provide them with training, policies, procedures and the company’s best-practices on how to handle all aspects of people management? If not, what did you expect?
Being a people leader (aka Lead, supervisor, manager, director, etc.), is a difficult task, no matter how many people one oversees. As an HR professional, I have had the privilege of working with many amazing people leaders. These are the leaders that inspire, motivate and get the job done! These are the leaders that we wish we could copy and paste into other roles to create consistent and efficient business operations. I have also had the misfortune of working with people leaders that are the opposite of amazing. These were the ones that I observed giving little regard to employees, the business practices and were content placing the company at risk. We all have stories of working with great and not-so-great leaders; but the downfall to having a bad leader at your company is that you are on the hook if they fail, not them.
The good news is that there is a solution. The solution for the now is management training. The solution for the future is to define your leadership philosophy and pivot your recruiting and hiring strategy around that (and continue providing management training of course).
The solution for the now: Management Training
Management training is not done enough in my opinion. I strongly encourage the investment of time and money on this solution because it will result in a return on your investment. If you train your people leaders, there will be increased efficiency throughout the organization. Efficiency looks like less overtime hours, more satisfied customers, less turnover amongst your employees and more. Training your people leaders will also result in minimized risks and costs, (workplace injuries, liability claims, Unemployment Insurance, cost to re-hire and more). More importantly, training your people leaders will instill confidence to lead their team to achieve company goals.
According to the Society of Human Resources, (SHRM), a 2020 survey indicated that, “84 percent of American workers say poorly trained people managers create a lot of unnecessary work and stress.” This means that much of our workforce is wasting time doing work that doesn’t need to get done, and/or stressed out which may lead to an increase in unexpected time-off, higher insurance costs, employee turnover, poor customer reviews and more.
There are too many obvious reasons to list as to why an organization should commit to training and equipping their people leaders. Management training should encompass basic employment laws (state and federal), specifically surrounding leaves of absence, accommodations, paychecks and deductions. You don’t have to train your people leaders to be HR experts; but you should equip them with basic knowledge of how to manage employees at every stage of the employee lifecycle, i.e., recruiting; on-boarding; training and development; rewards and recognition; compliance; and separation.
The solution for the future: Leadership Philosophy and Hiring Strategy
Define your leadership philosophy- this would consist of the company’s core principles and values. Once defined; lead by example and empower your leaders to apply this philosophy constantly. With a clearly defined and refreshed philosophy; it’s time to refocus on your hiring strategy. Who will be the future people leaders that you will entrust to lead the people of your organization?
After vetting your future people leader candidates, you should provide a realistic job preview to ensure commitment from the start. During the interview process make sure the candidate is in it for the right reasons, they are aware of what they are walking into, what they should do differently, how they can contribute and everything in-between. Make this preview of the job very realistic, (don’t scare, but share enough to make certain the hire is a success).
Vet these people leader candidates thoroughly; include other peer leaders in the interview process, but also include the team in which they may lead. Yes, getting your employees involved in the interview process may increase acceptance and commitment from both the team and the leader.
Being a people leader is a difficult task and it impacts more than just the team they lead, it impacts the company’s bottom line. You invest in tools to get the job done and help grow the business all the time; the best investment you can truly make is for people that work and lead the organization every day.