Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Thoughts on Supporting Managers

Alarm bells go off when I hear someone say "Our company has this management training program..." Usually this means that the company is either checking a box and/or is planning to shove another pet theory down throats - which then become ill-advised "teamwork" sessions when the manager gets back to the office.

"Oh no - the boss has been to another management training session. I wonder if I have enough vacation days...."

And I'll admit to having that reaction when I first read the question....hence my initial tactic.....

Storytelling

In my response to the Big Question, I told a story about my favorite manager. I was secretly hoping that someone would "get it", connect some of the dots, and outright suggest what I was hinting at. Thanks Dave!

I sense that facilitating this type of storytelling among your new managers, their employees, and the managers managers will be a cheap way to mentor and support ANY manager. Not just the new ones....

You get case studies of what good (and bad) management looks like.

By asking the employees, the new managers get a feel for how each employee would prefer to be managed. What is important to them. What will make them run screaming out of the company (because one's experience in a company is directly related to their relationship with the person directly above them).

If you ask an employee "So....how do you like to be managed?"- you probably won't get a straight answer.

The other benefit I see is that you start developing a culture of communication and, dare I say it, trust.

The folks at Anecdote have a number of white papers on facilitating this type of interaction.

Resource Hunting

Management has multiple facets. People, time, resources, etc.

Have the manager identify where he or she feels the weakest - then have them go hunting for cool stuff to help them feel stronger. Maybe 3-5 items. Blogs, sites, books, videos. Anything the manager found really helpful.

Have the manager comment/blog about the item they found. What type of information they found useful. How they applied the resulting knowledge to their work. That kind of thing.

Share all that on a resource wiki or site.

Stealth

Ultimately, whether any of this works is dependent upon the culture you are working in. If the original classroom training was developed so that the corporation could brag that they provided "management training" - you probably don't have a training issue. You have a culture issue.

Training can help change a culture - but the senior management has to be serious about supporting the plan and its outcomes. They have to be serious about supporting their employees - at all levels - in the first place.

If you have a culture issue, you can always use stealth.

"Hey, I'm trying to put together a management training and support system and am putting together some case studies. Who was your favorite manager in your career and why?"

Ask anyone you can get time with - top to bottom.

Who knows - maybe you'll trigger some learning......

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