People development – overlooked by technically-minded managers


It is notably more difficult to focus technically-minded managers on the development of their employees … but it is not impossible and it is increasingly necessary.

Organisations must realise that when they ask these managers to care about employees and their development, they are asking them to actually change their mindset … the strategies they operate with, linked to their own beliefs and values. Asking them to shift what they value at work is a massive ask … and it takes more than just throwing people into a one-day workshop. This is entrenched behaviour change that takes time and consistent support.TEAM - SUPPORT OF LEADER. istock-illustration-5541930-paper-people-leadership

More than a decade ago the Australian economy was largely driven by service industries, where right-brain skills succeed. However, in the last decade, left-brain disciplines – such as engineering – have increasingly contributed a larger amount to the economy. Therefore, people in left-brain disciplines are being promoted to management and supervisory roles, even though they have never had to develop, [or] have never been provided appropriate training to develop their skills in effectively managing people.

Further, when promoting an employee to a management position, employers must consider whether they have what it takes to be a leader, as it’s not management or leadership … it’s management and leadership skills and behaviours that’s needed.

Managers should be encouraged to develop their social and emotional intelligence  to become more aware of others and build coaching & mentoring relationships … to establish a base of raving fans who love working for them and who will follow them anywhere, no matter what is happening within the organisation.

Employees want to work for a manager who ‘gives a damn’ about them, and employers must produce a ‘what’s in it for me’ factor to encourage managers to care. One way way to get the message across is to repeatedly reinforce that …’good people leave bad managers; they don’t leave organisations’.

What about their own development?

Not only should managers be encouraged to care about their employees’ development, they should also be focusing their own continual development within an organisation.

It is important for managers to have a strong sense of ownership on the design of any development program aimed at them; so involve them in identifying what it is they need for their development. Ideally, this should be part of regular performance management discussions, because employers really can’t take an experienced manager and shove a development program down their throat … it just doesn’t work if there is no ‘buy in’.

Creating focus groups or implementing surveys can help identify what managers want their development programs to include. This process should also include the managers’ personal values as well as the organisation’s direction and strategic priorities.

And that’s where we come in … Workforce VITALITY will work closely with an enterprise, engaging and exploring with managers exactly what capabilities they need to grow, what communication skills they need to work on, what attitudes they need change … to become better people managers.  We will design a program that partners with an organisation for as long as it takes to support participants with coaching and mentoring, as well as linking them to successful leaders and managers that they can model in their field of work.

We are passionate about this stuff … managers and supervisors should not be engaged from a ‘your turn for promotion’ decision … enterprises should be ensuring they develop their key people with the right skills and appoint the right ‘pro-mentoring’ people into supervisory positions. 


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