The need for quality Managers that can improve the productivity of teams is huge right now.
Ever wonder why so little time is spent on manager training in the workplace?
It’s scary to see people can sometimes spend years in the same job with little or no training on how to improve their management skills.
In this post you’re going to learn everything you need to know to get your management skills training on track and avoid the trap of being stuck in the same role for years and years.
It can be very frustrating to find that, when you’re much more experienced than you were and you want to move your business or career forward you still have no options to grow and develop.
Like us, you want to ensure that when you decide to move your business or career forward – the years of hard work over your life translates into value that you can use when opportunities come knocking.
Now’s a great time to put yourself first and take your manager training seriously.
There is a growing trend which will likely see leadership and management training sit a lot lower than it should in the priority of organisational training, both now and in the future.
Take a look:
People are choosing to move jobs more than ever before.
Given the expense of management training programs and the fact it is difficult to prove a return on investment, it is difficult for even the most pro-training manager to justify the expense of training.
This is especially true when times are tough, the training budget is usually the first to go.
There are 2 schools of thought about manager training programs:
1 – The easiest option (and unfortunately a very common one) is not to train your teams so you are not investing time and money into training people who will then leave your organisation.
2 – The other option is to train your people so they become more effective in their role (and more valuable in the marketplace for other employers)
Smart organisations are doing something different and they have the best of both worlds-
Although it may be true that poorly trained leaders and managers have less options to move jobs or change careers, and the reason they don’t move jobs is because they can’t, there is a flip side to this…
Poorly trained leaders and managers are not as good at what they do, this means your department, business or organisation will not run as productively as it could.
At some point that unproductive workforce could mean your business is pushed out of the market by competitors.
Market leaders in any industry spend a lot of money on training. They know to be the best at what they do and to stay ahead of the competition, they need the best people with the best management skills.
Imagine if you were able to gather all the CEO’s from the top 10 FTSE 100 companies in a room together to ask them one question…
“What do you think is the biggest challenge facing your companies over the next 5-10 years?”
What do you think they would say?
I’m not sure of the answer myself, but I am willing to bet they would all be related to concerns over a lack of productivity in their workforce in some way.
That’s because more and more employers are realizing they are unable to reach their full potential because they have an unproductive workforce.
They have large teams of people working for them, but they don’t know how to get their employees to deliver what they want, when they want it, and to the standard they have asked for.
Employees are starting to realise there is a big difference between:
Unskilled managers (these may not be bad people) rely on coercive power to get results because they don’t have the knowledge or skill to get results any other way.
Let’s have a look at how coercive power is used by those without manager training:
Organisations that do not train their teams can still make a lot of money, but eventually the bill for an unproductive workforce has to be paid.
This can be in the form of losing market share to a competitor, or a business going bankrupt because it is no longer capable of producing something the customers want, or cannot produce it cheaply enough.
Generally speaking organisations do not take training their workforce seriously:
If you want to continue to be more successful in the future, then relying on your organisation to improve you and your team isn’t going to cut it.
Taking the reins of your own leadership training and development is more important than ever before.
How to Improve Poor Productivity
When it comes to manager training, a great place to start is in managing teams so they are more productive.
Research recently completed by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) confirmed that many countries across the world are experiencing an unexpected level of reductions in productivity.
In the UK alone productivity is measuring at 20% below the EU average, and this is at a time when new technologies should be ensuring our productivity is at an all-time high!
Take a look:
But this shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
Businesses today must deal with a much more expectant and demanding workforce. They can no long beat people to get them to work harder.
Companies can no long sack people on the spot because they don’t like how they do something.
Managers today are, without even knowing it, using communication methods that were developed and used in the 1800’s! This is causing serious harm and is costing organisations billions of pounds every year.
When countries are losing this much money in lost productivity, people want to know why.
So, the CMI conducted extensive investigations to find the reason for this downturn in productivity.
The results of this investigation as published in their findings, stated the biggest reason for this lost productivity was due to Poor Management and Communication
And similar studies such as this back up their findings:
Of the 2 problems, Management is well understood. Want to solve it? Invest in infrastructure, introduce effective systems and buy in experience. That was easy – problem solved.
Want to solve the communication problem within an entire organization? Not So easy. So how do we fix this productivity crisis?
Well, to answer that question we first need to understand the factors behind a lack of productivity in the workforce.
We’re going to look at the key reasons why a lack of productivity is affecting your workplace.
Now, when I ask this question to a group of managers I am working with, their answer is always the same…
As we go through these reasons, I want you to pay particular attention to how many times it is the workforce who are at fault.
How many times have you been given an instruction or a job or a task to complete, with no explanation as to why you need to complete this work?
We see this happen all the time.
Engaging your staff is so important and yet so many managers get this wrong.
If you want to improve your team’s productivity getting the engagement right is crucial. (If you want some great techniques for teaching effective engagement, make sure you read our article on Employee Engagement).
In fact, we think that it is such an important part of communication, it is one of the first things we cover in our communication course.
You may have heard the story I am about to tell you before, in fact I’ve used it many times and I don’t apologise for that! Because it is such a great example of why staff engagement is so important.
Copy Machine Experiment
In 1977 the world-renowned psychologist Ellen Langer conducted a simple experiment which would change our understanding of human behaviour by highlighting the importance of effective engagement.
She wanted to record the responses to three different questions asked when a queue was seen at the photocopier in the busy library at Harvard University.
So, whenever there was a queue her researcher would walk over with the intention of jumping the queue. She would ask the person she was cutting in front of one of three questions…
Q1- (request only) “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?”
Q2- (request with a real reason) “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”
Q3- (request with a fake excuse) “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?”
You’ll notice version 3 didn’t make much sense.
Using the phrase “because I have to make copies” wasn’t a very good reason for cutting in, everyone waiting needed to make copies, but the researcher was using it to justify jumping the queue anyway.
The results of this experiment were amazing! When the researchers analysed the data, they found the following…
Langer’s research, which became known as the Copy Machine study, had uncovered one of the most powerful words we use to drive our own decision making:
This experiment proved that if we could justify a decision to ourselves (I’m doing this because….), we would make that decision even if the reason didn’t really make sense.
The same is true of all of us, people like to have reasons for what they do.
By explaining the reason why you want somebody to do something, you are far more likely to get them to do it, and to do it well.
Engaging your team effectively in this way, rather than just barking orders or giving instructions with no reason why, is proven to increase the productivity of your team.
Potential Danger of Hard Work
We know now why so many businesses and organisations are looking to solve the productivity crisis, and we understand that the answer lies in learning how to communicate correctly, let’s continue to look at the reasons why productivity can be affected in the workplace.
When the output of a team is controlled by one or two members of that team doing all the work, their productivity will never fulfil its potential.
Sounds obvious doesn’t it?
But you would be surprised how many times we see this happening in the workplace.
And this is the reason why….
There are so many managers who are unable to delegate responsibility to their teams, they do not trust them enough to allow them to be accountable for even the most basic tasks.
Some people find this:
If this is you, I’d really recommend you read our Ultimate Guide to Emotional Intelligence before you go any further.
In all seriousness the “hate” of working with others is common and usually stems from a lack Management and Leadership skill.
No one likes doing something they find impossible to do, especially when there is pressure on you to perform well.
Usually in these situations we find that these are the types of jobs that the managers themselves were always very good at.
They don’t want to delegate these “important” jobs and will probably say things like:
The reality is they don’t want to let go of something they feel comfortable with.
They would rather continue to try and complete these “important” tasks themselves, as well as all the other duties they must perform as a manager.
They have fallen into what we call the:
“Hard Work Mind-Set”
One of the many people we have worked with who fell victim to the “hard work mind-set” was a manager in a private healthcare clinic.
The department she was responsible for had previously had a lot of issues with mistakes being made by nurses on the patient’s drugs rounds.
In an attempt to try and fix this issue she decided she didn’t want any of her nurses to be responsible for any of the drugs that were issued to patients anymore – That responsibility should be down to her and her alone.
So, every time the patients drug round was due, she would do it herself. This took up to an hour of her already busy schedule, twice a day – and it was definitely time she didn’t have to spare.
One day the ward was particularly busy and, being under pressure with deadlines looming, she rushed through the drugs round and made a mistake.
By not making her nurses accountable for the drugs round and trying to complete it all herself, she made the mistake she was trying to prevent in the first place.
Fortunately, no-one was hurt but you get the point.
It’s so easy to spot these types of managers as well.
Look around where you work.
They’re the ones rushing around with the weight of the world on their shoulders, while their team skip around, chatting to each other, not achieving anything and with no care in the world about the pressure their manager is under!
People who deliver results through hard work will always create an environment of inconsistent results over a longer period of time.
Sometimes these results may be good enough for the company, but they can never last and you will always see a drop in the standard of work when these people are not there, for example if they are on holiday or have a day off.
Another problem caused by getting a result through hard work is their position in the company becomes very difficult to fill.
I can think of many examples where without realising it, managers who have this hard work mind-set become a victim of their own hard work and their career comes to a standstill because they cannot be replaced. Nobody else knows how to do the job.
By learning how to delegate and make your team accountable for their actions and decisions, you encourage them to do a better job, in the allocated time, to the standard that you have asked for.
Most people come to work wanting to do a great job.
One of the main reasons that doesn’t happen is because there is no consequence for them not to deliver, because they are not accountable for anything.
Where our healthcare manager went wrong was thinking the answer to her problem was to work harder and take on the responsibility herself, when what she should have been focusing on is training her team and then holding them accountable for any mistakes they made.
As soon as she started to do this not only did she see the mistakes on drugs rounds disappear, but, as she said in her own words:
“the pride the nurses started to take in their work was instantly noticeable, the atmosphere in the ward changed completely and best of all the productivity of the whole team increased substantially!”
Deciding to delegate is a huge step forward but now we need to look at how you can delegate so people do exactly what you want them to do.
Just before we move on, use this table as a good guide to help you decide what to delegate.
Remember when I said to you back in the first of these articles to pay particular attention to how many times it is the workforce who are at fault. Well, read on!
Now you know the importance of everyone working equally, it is time to explore how you get people to become trusted team members that perform to a high standard with minimum supervision.
Did You Read The Instructions?
One of the biggest problems we find when working with companies whose overall productivity is down, is that managers have not given their workers clear enough instructions on how to compete the job in the first place.
Without setting clear enough expectations of how they wanted things to be done, how do they think the work is going to be completed on time and to the required standard?
A great example of this is what we like to call “the flat pack instruction”.
Now I know there are plenty of people who will relate to this, and I am definitely one of these types as well!
You know when you get that call from the wife, late on a Friday afternoon just as you’re starting to look forward to the weekend!
“Don’t forget we are going to IKEA tomorrow to get a new dining table set!”
Yep! Just what you wanted to hear!
So, after all the groans and muttering under your breath after you realise your Saturday is now ruined, you get down to IKEA and pick up your new furniture.
Now, if you are anything like me, you get home and start unpacking the boxes, the first thing that goes in the bin is the instructions, right?
I mean, how hard can it be to put a table together, especially for a DIY guru like myself!
So, you start building the table, and after a couple of hours you finally finish, and you get up to proudly survey your creation.
Everything is good with the world…. until the wife comes over and asks “What are those bolts on the floor there for?”
And before you can tell her that they are spares and you don’t really need them, “they always put extra in the box”.
She blurts out that question that crushes the soul of every wannabe DIYer, “Did you follow the instructions?”
When a manager doesn’t give his team specific enough instructions to complete a job it’s like giving someone some flat pack furniture and asking them to build it, without giving them the instructions.
They will give it a go, and do the best that they can, but they will never deliver exactly what you want, because they can’t see the whole picture – you haven’t given them all the information.
So, what happens next?
You have to get them to start again, or worse still you end up doing it yourself. All of which eats into your time and has a massive effect on your productivity.
So what do you do when things go wrong?
Did You Read The Instructions?
Have you ever been in a situation where you have gone to check on a team member’s work, only to find the task has been completed incorrectly, or maybe not even completed at all?
What do you say? How do you react?
The first thing a lot of managers will do is assume the worst, the work hasn’t been completed because the team member is lazy, or they have a bad attitude to work, or they are not good enough to do the job. (Think back to my example earlier where I told you the types of response I get from managers I work with when I ask them about the reasons behind the productivity crisis).
But they haven’t taken the time to find out the reason why the work has not been completed, they have done no “fact-finding” and as a result they usually “jump the gun” and come straight in with a reprimand for the unfortunate team member.
One of the most important parts of effective follow-up is you have to have all the facts in front of you before you make a decision about their performance.
A good comparison that we use is that of a police detective.
If a crime is committed, the detective is required to investigate the crime fully, even if it appears that the suspect is guilty.
They must gather all the evidence and facts, interview the suspect and take witness statements before finally deciding whether to charge them with the crime.
No judge or jury in the world will convict someone if no time at all has been spent gathering evidence to prove a crime.
If you understand this process you’ll clearly know that no matter how much you think you know about the situation, you must always take the time to get the other person’s side of the story before making any decisions about their performance.
Taking the time to “fact find” and discover the reason why a team member has not completed their work to the standard you have requested, or in the time you allocated, puts you in a much better position to assess their performance fairly and not “jump the gun”.
Ever felt like the 69% in this stat:
If someone hasn’t done a good job then it is them that should feel uncomfortable – right?
The reason a lot of managers do not feel comfortable is because they know (at least subconsciously) that they are not being fair when they “jump the gun’ and don’t give the other person an opportunity to tell their side of the story.
The other person knows it isn’t fair as well and that is why they are comfortable to call you out on your poor behaviour. In other words:
They know you being unfair trumps them not doing a good job and they make sure you know it.
The potential damage this can do to your team’s productivity is clear.
If people feel they are being treated unfairly or not being given a chance to explain things from their perspective, their productivity is going to drop as they become disheartened and demotivated.
Fact Finding is an extremely useful management skill to have.
Now you’ve gathered the facts, it’s time for the next step….,
Self-Awareness is a huge part of effective communication. So many people are unaware of how the words they use and the actions they take affect the people they are communicating with.
This is particularly true in business.
Employers of every type will assume that when something doesn’t go to plan in the business, it’s the fault of the employee – the guy who was supposed to finish that task, the team member who was supposed to get that paperwork submitted on time, or the person who was supposed to have fixed that problem.
Short term habits could be creating a work environment you didn’t want…
One of the best examples I have found to illustrate this is in the book “Good Boss Bad Boss” by Robert I Sutton. In the book he talks about a management team he was working with where the team members felt their boss was over-bearing, didn’t listen and constantly put them down.
Obviously, the boss disagreed. He thought the members of his team were over sensitive and lacked the drive to get the job done.
So, the group were asked to take part in a workshop and were told to spend about 20 minutes brainstorming ideas about new products for their business.
They were then asked to select the best idea, the craziest idea and the idea most likely to fail.
But the guys running the workshop weren’t really interested in the ideas they were discussing, they were busy making rough counts of the number of comments made by each of the team, how many times they were interrupted and how many times they interrupted another member of the team.
During the exercise the boss made about 65% of the comments, interrupted others at least 20 times and was never interrupted once.
Then they asked the boss to leave the room and asked the other members of the team to estimate the results.
They were almost laser accurate with their recollections of their bosses’ actions.
Then they asked the boss to come back in and asked him the same questions.
He recalled making about 25% of the comments, interrupting others 2 or 3 times and being interrupted 4 or 5 times!
When the boss was told the actual results, and the fact that his team were far more accurate in their recollections than he was, well let’s just say it didn’t go down very well!
As this boss discovered, being a boss is like being a high-status primate in any group.
The creatures beneath you in the pecking order watch every move you make – and so they know a lot more about you than you know about them!
Listening to your team goes a long way to helping prevent a toxic working environment…
I hope this manager training guide helped you step up your management and leadership game.
Now I’d like to turn it over to you:
What was your favourite part from this guide?
Or maybe you have an excellent piece of content that you think I should add.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.