Note to companies running on EOS®: The How to Be A Great Boss book and workshop are still foundational learning for ALL leaders, which includes both you and your managers. This post is designed to help you design a strategy for making an ongoing investment in all of your leaders outside your leadership team. Remember #2 on the leadership side of the LMA leadership behaviors: “I am providing the necessary resources.”
When you grow to have mid-level managers in your organization—which generally leads to more disconnect from the day-to-day—it brings a whole new level of complexity. With a million things on your mind to keep the business afloat, there’s one task that often falls through the cracks: making sure mid-level managers have enough training.
I see it often. With more experienced managers and leaders having less and less time, it’s no wonder newer leaders may end up feeling unanchored or unsupported. Without mentoring and support from those who’ve gained wisdom through education or experience, many managers spend a lot of extra energy learning the hard way.
If you’re seeing the negative impact of lacking leadership training in your organization, don’t wait. The time to act is now, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and there’s no time like today to make a positive change!
Based on my experience, there are the three core competencies you need to instill in your mid-level managers to help them be successful.
To know others, we must know ourselves. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve found there are a variety of tests out there that can help new, and even seasoned, leaders boost their self-awareness at work. The Clifton StrengthsFinder test is a great example of this, showing people their strengths and weaknesses. The Kolbe A Index test is another one that shows what type of work a leader has the most or least energy for, which can be a great aid in delegation.
Not only do these types of tests help managers better understand themselves, they can also help them better understand their team members. Similar to EOS, these tests provide a shared language to more clearly communicate needs. Understanding themselves, their team members, and why they each operate how they do can lead them to the realization that not everyone sees the world the way they do. The byproduct of this training is leaders able to reach a new level of openness and honesty in their conversations.
Creating understanding around these areas not only helps create more effective collaboration and communication in the workplace, but also in their personal lives. In short, fostering self-awareness in your mid-level managers is one of the most effective tools you can equip them with.
Many people hate the word “conflict.” It’s often seen as a negative thing, but it isn’t as simple as saying conflict is “bad” or “good.” There are situations where conflict can be incredibly helpful. The idea is to ensure that, when we have conflict, it’s productive. When we come out on the other side of conflict, we want to have accomplished something and have moved in a positive direction.
Humans are emotional by nature, but that doesn’t mean we’re incapable of being logical. The ability to temper our feelings around conflict-causing topics is most often a learned skill, not an inherent one. Given the right tools, anyone can learn to handle conflict and come out productive on the other side. There are plenty of books available on the topic, as well as leadership courses through a variety of reputable sources.
How Your Organization Makes a Profit
In many organizations, large decisions are made at the leadership team-level. That means by the time it gets to the middle manager, they might feel pretty disconnected from the financial strategy behind that decision.
As the one often charged with rolling out those decisions, not understanding how it impacts your organization’s profitability can lead to a lot of frustration, if not resistance. “What’s the point?” “Won’t this decrease productivity?” “Why are we changing this again?”
Explain to them exactly where your profits come from* as an organization. You may be surprised by the benefits a well-informed manager offers! By having a manager who can better-inform your calculations and assumptions based on greater depth of knowledge, you make more educated financial decisions. They can also help you see pros or cons from a slightly different perspective.
By providing managers with an overview of how all the money-making aspects of your company work together, managers can shift from simply following orders to effectively leading or managing their team with confidence.
*If you are an owner or CEO, this is one of the four videos I encourage all of you to make. Here’s a video where I share the other three and put some context to where this fits.
Set Managers Up For Success
Listen, I get it. It might seem like a lot to follow through on those three things, and that’s because—in a certain sense—it is. If you need a place to start, the two best things you can do to help your team’s manager is provide them with your time and attention, and model what you teach. Don’t send managers through a training you haven’t done yourself, and make yourself available to answer questions and provide the clarity they need to be successful.
With these three tools in their arsenals, your managers will have the confidence, knowledge and skills to lead their team to success. Not only is that crucial for their growth, it’s also necessary for the success of your business. And it all starts with you and your leadership team setting them up for success.