Manager's Corner: How Managers Develop Their Employees

Manager's Corner
How Managers Develop Their Employees

We're working with several organizations helping them prepare their next tier of managers to eventually take over the senior leadership positions. However, before we focus on developing this next tier of managers, we spend a good bit of time working with the current senior leadership team to help them comprehend their level of responsibility in developing their own employees. It's not Human Resources' job; it's theirs. Whether they hold the position of VP of Operations, Director of Eastern Markets, or Senior Supervisor, every manager, supervisor, or team leader has the responsibility to continuously develop the skills, knowledge, and abilities (S/K/A) of the individuals they supervise. So, how do they do this?
First, to help the current senior team start to think in terms of how they might help their team members develop, we have them review their own position descriptions and answer questions such as:
- Does your current position description accurately reflect the skills, knowledge, and abilities (S/K/A) needed to effectively fulfill your current job responsibilities?
* If not, what is missing and how does this S/K/A help you do your job. Be specific.
- What specific training or experience (i.e. projects, etc.) have you been provided that you believe helped you gain critical skills to do your job?
- As you look into the future to the Company's vision, how will your job be different 3-5 years from now?
* What additional S/K/A will you need to do your job then?
* What would help you gain those required S/K/A? (Identify specific training, coaching/mentoring, cross-training, field experience, etc.)
This process gets the senior managers thinking about their own skills and what really is needed now and in the future to do their jobs well. Often this step alone helps them to identify training and experiences they've had that helped them gain their knowledge that they hadn't fully appreciated before.
Second, we have the senior managers review their middle managers' position descriptions and answer questions such as:
- Does the current position description accurately reflect the S/K/A needed to effectively fulfill their current job responsibilities?
* If not, what is missing and how does this S/K/A help each manager do his/her job. Be specific.
- What specific training or experience (i.e. projects, etc.) have each of the managers been provided that you believe helped them gain critical skills to do their jobs?
- As you look into the future to the Company's vision, how will their jobs be different 3-5 years from now?
* What additional S/K/A will they need to do their jobs then?
* What would help them to gain those required S/K/A? (Identify specific training, coaching/mentoring, cross-training, field experience, etc.)
This process helps the senior managers really focus on what their middle managers do and don't know and do. It also helps them clarify what skills really are needed now and in the future to do these jobs well. This step often highlights for them long-overdue training and project experience many of their middle managers need.
Third, we have the senior managers ask themselves:
- Who currently fills in for you/serves as your "Acting" when you are out or unable to do your job?
* What S/K/A does this person have that allows him/her to do your job?
* Does this person hold the position within the company that would logically be considered your successor?
- If not, what S/K/A is the person missing who does hold the position that would logically be considered your successor?
This process and many others help the senior managers "wake up" and see anew what S/K/A their current middle managers do and don't have.
Often, just these few steps provide great insight for the senior team to take action and help develop their employees. It also helps them realize that developing others is not Human Resources' responsibility; it's theirs. They also start to see how managers can develop their employees. Can you?

Liz Weber of Weber Business Services, LLC. WBS specializes in Strategic, Business, and Succession Planning, as well as employee and leadership training. Contact: liz@wbsllc.com or 717-597-8890.