Numbers May Drive the Business, but People Drive the Numbers (R)
What are you doing to help your new managers succeed? Do you throw them in the pool and hope they can swim? Or do you equip them to thrive?
I have a question for you. As a business exec, do you spend more time focusing on your numbers or on your people?
Several years in a group with CEOs of small-medium sized businesses taught me that execs often focus on the numbers—the P&L, balance sheet, key performance indicators, sales, and more. A common saying was, “This would be a great business if I didn’t have to deal with the people.”
That’s when I came up with my tagline:
Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.®
Victor Lipman, an experienced senior executive, recently wrote in Harvard Business Review:
“I realized I’d received much more management training in the last five years than I did in the first 20 years — when I really needed it — combined.”
ARE YOUR NEW MANAGERS ADRIFT?
What are we doing for our next generation of leaders? Are we giving them a firm foundation of management skills that they can build on as they rise through the ranks?
Or are we saying, “We’re promoting you to manager. Good luck.” And setting them adrift?
I was promoted to a management position when I was 23. I got no training for that role. I wonder how much better life would have been for my large staff and myself if someone had taught me skills and given me tools for the job.
Victor Lipman says, “We can’t afford to overlook the junior managers who would most benefit from management knowledge.” Amen to that!
DATA ON THE PEOPLE
If you need data to see the value of investing in new managers—be it training, mentoring, coaching or whatever label you use—check out this info.
The No. 1 reason people quit is their manager. (conventional knowledge)
60% of new frontline managers fail within the first two years in their new role—Business Wire Survey 2007
47% of new supervisors receive no supervisor training—Ken Blanchard Company
When managers are effective at employee development, their employees
• Perform up to 25% better than their peers
• Are 29% more committed
• Are 40% more likely to stay with the organization
—Corporate Executive Board Company
NEW POSITION = NEW RESPONSIBILITIES
“Congratulations! You’re a manager now. Have a nice day!”
Things change a lot when you become a manager. Just yesterday a new manager told me he was going nuts because of all the new things he’s supposed to do. And, of course, he’s getting little help from above.
New managers are no longer focused on day-to-day work and getting things done.
Now, it’s about
• Building a team
• Leading your team
• Setting and meeting team goals
• Developing the people on your team
• Communicating up, down and across your company
• Resolving conflicts
• Holding people accountable
• Meeting with senior management
• And learning a ton of new skills
And, of course, the new manager can no longer be just one of the guys at lunch. It’s time to make new lunch buddies.
OPTIONS FOR HELPING NEW MANAGERS
What can you do, as a busy executive or manager in your firm?
There’s training, of course—in classrooms or seminars and online. But training only goes so far. And people frequently forget what they’ve learned in that seminar.
In an 8-hour training session, each participant will only learn 3-5 points covered in the material. A day later, that participant can recall only 33% of what he did learn. After a month, the participant’s retention is down to 21%.
The antidote to forgetting is to apply and practice the material. Adults learn by
• layering new information on top of past experiences
• making the information fit within their mental model
• practicing using that information or new skill
• revising the understanding of that skill based on lessons learned
• practicing again until the skill becomes ingrained
And it takes time.
SOME WAYS TO HELP NOW
Here are some suggestions for lower-cost, just-in-time ways to develop managers.
Start with a new manager competency checklist. Your HR department probably has that. Sit with a new manager and together decide what competencies the new manager needs to develop. Set a schedule for focusing on one competency a quarter.
Pick a book, which you provide, to help the new manager learn the skill of the month. Each week for a month spend 15 min. with the new manager discussing what one thing he gained from that week’s reading. Discuss how the new manager can implement that with his team.
Find a TED talk on your skill of the month. Have the new manager watch the talk, then share with you (in person or via email) the key points from the talk and how the new manager will implement them.
Hold monthly lunch-and-learns on the competencies you’re focusing on. Have new managers team up to discuss their growth on that competency.
Pair a new manager with a senior manager who can coach on the targeted competency. Use this as an opportunity for the senior manager to pass along knowledge that you don’t want to lose when that person retires.
Share articles that you want new managers to read and comment on. Ask them how they’ll apply this new knowledge in managing their team.
Once a new manager becomes proficient at his new competency, have him teach that competency to his team or to another new manager. The best way to learn a subject is to have to teach it to another person.
And always remember:
Numbers may drive the business, but people drive the numbers.® Set a good example.
© Pamela A. Scott, MentorLoft.com, 2018