Approximately 60% of new supervisors or first-time managers receive no leadership training and development before they are promoted to their positions. Maybe that accounts for why employees see 50% of their supervisors as ineffective. It appears that companies don’t believe or aren’t aware of the available research about the skills needed to be a good manager. Nor are they aware of the negative impacts that pile up when their managers aren’t competent.
How come? These four reasons might explain your company’s lack of attention to developing leadership skills in their managers — from the front-line up.
1. Your company doesn’t understand what competent supervisors do.
Often in the growth stage of many companies, leadership tends to promote existing staff into supervision. With such an emphasis on the technical aspects of running a company in the beginning start-up stages, you assume that supervisory capabilities will naturally grow along with the rest of the business without additional focus. That indicates that your company doesn’t have a solid plan for adding competent supervisors. Instead, it will move people into positions like checkers around the board.
Underneath this lack of planning is the notion that your company doesn’t understand what it takes to lead people. Otherwise, you would know the skills to identify in others before selecting supervisors as the company grows. Your company mistakenly assumes that by virtue of being people, your “star” employees know how to lead other people to get the best work out of them.
2. Your company sees employees as interchangeable cogs in the wheel.
“People don’t leave companies; they leave managers.” This adage has been around for decades and in my experience it’s true. You can like the company you work for while not being able to tolerate your direct supervisor. When this happens, employees leave. When your company doesn’t select and develop its managers, it’s a sign that you are willing to have higher than normal turnover. It’s almost as though you see employees as replaceable machine parts. Just hire some more. While the turnover cost per hire in entry level employee positions can be low, the volume of vacancies multiplies that low cost per hire quickly.
3. Your company underappreciates the power of “soft” skills.
Cultivating a person with the requisite people skills to get the best out of your employees is no mean feat. It’s almost as if your company believes communicating clearly and respectfully, appreciating others, giving feedback, and all the other supervisory skills are easy to do. When you and your senior team to misses this, it indicates your lack of people skills. Perhaps, too, your company is in an industry that is based on technical knowledge and skills, creating a natural disconnect with the importance of understanding and working with people.
4. Your company focuses on the upfront expense of leadership development without understanding the payoff.
Measuring the effectiveness and impact of leadership skills is fuzzy. Also, the payoff for leadership training and development pays off more slowly over time compared to other skills training. Still, in my experience, employee complaints decrease and employee retention increases when managers are trained and provided on-the-job experiences to increase their leadership skills and knowledge. It is an investment that will likely payoff in the future; not simply an expense for an ordinary purchase.
To conclude, it might be that your company “doesn’t know what it doesn’t know.” But there’s really no excuse for having a blind spot around management and leadership training in the 21st century. The available research and your own experience working for various supervisors throughout your career should be proof enough of it’s necessity.