Supporting good people management
Firstly, you should be making it clear that managing people and leading a team are an important part of any management role in your organisation.
Making it job no 1
I remember years ago, an HR director stood up at a management conference and said, ‘Here’s your new job description, everybody’. And he handed everyone on the management team the same generic leadership job description.
What he was trying to demonstrate was, it doesn’t matter if you’re in finance, or engineering, or marketing or sales, if you’re a manager, managing people is your main role. You just happen to be doing it in those functions. So we need to make that really clear, that is our expectation.
We also need to manage behaviours, as well as results. I’m sure you’ve come across people who are fantastic at getting results, meaning they hit their KPIs, but their behaviours are worrisome. And behaviours are much harder to change, then skills.
If you have somebody that is not behaving to expectations, you must manage that behaviour, no matter what their actual results are. You must set the expectations for their behaviours.
You should also be developing people as you put them into management roles. And if they’re already there, you still need to develop them. You need to take a look at what you need to do to develop them as a leader in this business. So you might look at emotional intelligence, testing and development. You might get them a coach, and really invest some time into this.
Recognising poor managers
Perhaps as part of the development process, or after that process has started going, if they still don’t change, then you might need to have an honest conversation about whether they’re up to the challenge of leading others.
Some people just aren’t, some people have no interest. They’ve got no skill and no will. Or maybe they have the skill, but no will. Either way, it’s not going to work. Then you need to have an honest conversation and ask, ‘is this something you really want to do?’
And if they’re valuable enough as a technical expert, perhaps you just need to restructure and take them out of that management role. Because if they’re still valuable to the business, it may just be that they’re not valuable as a people leader.
Your people leadership roles are some of the most important you’re ever going to have in your business, they will have the most impact in terms of their engagement and productivity. So you need to make sure you have the right people in the right seats in those roles.
So have a think about the people who are the managers in your organisation. Is there any opportunity here to reset the expectations about how leadership works in your organisation? And is there anybody that you need to start developing?
If you allow managers who don’t ‘do people well’ to continue managing people in your organisation, you are going to see those downsides: conflict, dysfunction and a culture that could quickly slide into apathy or toxicity.