There is a plethora of executive education programmes catering for business leaders, but when it comes to junior and middle managers, the gap is enormous. As a result, young, inexperienced, yet highly talented, staff are promoted into positions of authority and often find themselves unable to cope with the demands of their new job.
An excellent technical person is promoted to the position of supervisor. A newly appointed middle manager struggles to manage his budget. A young area manager suddenly faces the challenge of leading a team of people who just a few months back were their peers. These are all familiar scenarios in today’s business environment.
“The solution is to nurture the pool of talent that companies have at junior and mid-level and to build their development as future leaders into your long-term business strategy,” says Dr Madelise Grobler, MD of Bytes People Solutions.
“It makes sense, after all, to seek out talented staff for promotion from within the business’s talent pool. However, companies regularly make the mistake of appointing people to positions for which they simply are not equipped.”
Workshop-based, ad hoc interventions that take place once or twice a year are not enough to move junior and middle managers to the next level, she adds.
“You need to identify the people who have the potential to grow and to help them achieve that potential through a series of standardised, competency-based programmes that measure and assess people in areas such as management and leadership, planning and communication, delegation, team building and motivation.”
Right now, says Grobler, many companies wait too long to provide training because they are seeking out the perfect solution.
“You have people sitting in management positions who have no idea what they are doing. One day they are a storeman, and the next they become the supervisor. How do they go from being a peer to a manager? The best way to equip them with the right skills is to implement intervention programmes that provide a sound measure of their development.”
Failure to do so can result in damage to a team, and especially to the inexperienced manager. Imagine that person is placed in a position where they have input into areas such as salary increases, yet they have little or no idea of how to measure key performance areas. It’s an unfair expectation that can cause real harm to a person’s self-esteem and career in the long-term.
Grobler recommends budgeting for the regular, ongoing training of future leaders.
“Think of it as providing them with an HR toolbox, and make sure it’s available for newly appointed people but also for staff who move from one position to another in a management role. It’s an essential part of talent management planning and makes all the difference in preparing people to move confidently up the ladder.”