Developing Management to Build Winning Teams

Your management team has a major impact on your employees. According to Gallup, managers hold high influence over their teams, becoming responsible for 70% of the variance in their workers’ engagement. Developing management team members into strong leaders can improve how your employees feel and how they perform. Find out why manager development is important and how you can develop your managers effectively.


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Importance of managers with effective leadership skills

Managers are in a position to inspire employees to perform better and achieve more, but many are missing that opportunity. Gallup states that less than 10% of employees feel strongly that company leadership inspires enthusiasm about the future and communicates effectively. Less than a quarter feel strongly that leadership manages performance to push them to do outstanding work.


Those statistics show that leadership is coming up short in inspiring better performance and communicating with employees. When management fails to lead, it can cause lower productivity and subpar performance. Employees often become disengaged, and you might experience high turnover.


Managers often impact employee engagement. With 54% of workers being “not engaged” and 14% being “actively disengaged,” improving leadership to increase engagement can make a difference within your teams. Engaged employees are often more productive and more likely to stay longer.


Developing management can support your teams and improve overall performance and engagement. It gives you a chance to address the shortcomings of your management staff and develop them into the strongest leaders possible.


Key traits managers should have

Managers who naturally have leadership qualities often take to a team leader role easily. While you can develop many leadership skills, other traits are more difficult to foster. Managers who truly want to change can make some progress, but it’s tough to completely change someone to make them more empathetic or honest.


Looking for key traits in potential leaders can make manager development easier. Some key traits include:

  • Honesty
  • Empathy
  • Fairness
  • Decisiveness
  • Confidence
  • Creative thinking
  • Delegation
  • Commitment
  • Vision and focus
  • Ability to handle pressure well

When promoting from within, look for employees who naturally display those traits. Even if they don’t have real-world management experience, you can often train them to hone those natural skills to create strong leaders.


Identifying poor management

Poor management can cause major problems in your organization, including high turnover and disengaged employees. It could also lead to bad PR if your employees start complaining publicly.


Some signs of poor management include:

  • Controlling, intimidating behavior
  • No communication with the team
  • Lack of support for employees
  • Showing favoritism
  • Micromanaging all tasks
  • Lack of emotional control
  • Unwilling to be flexible or accept change
  • Weak decision-making skills
  • Inconsistency
  • Taking credit for the accomplishments of employees

Being able to recognize poor management helps you correct the issue. A bad manager may have the potential to develop leadership skills with the right intervention and training. Looking for warning signs helps you stop the management issue before it causes problems.


Methods of developing management

Providing as many development opportunities for managers as possible helps create well-rounded leaders. Here are some manager development opportunities to consider.


Learning management system

A learning management system (LMS) is a software solution that lets you customize training. You can use it to create an internal manager training program that covers the key aspects you want your leaders to have. This creates a consistent leadership development program within your organization. You can also use the system to monitor your managers’ training with reports and information collected by the LMS.


Professional development

Professional development allows each manager to continue learning on an individual level. It can include self-learning, online courses, training classes, certifications, networking events, conferences, workshops and any other formal or informal learning opportunities.


While some managers naturally seek out professional development to make themselves better, others need motivation to do so. Establish a professional development policy for your managers to ensure they pursue these opportunities. You might have specific training or certifications you have all managers do, or you might leave it up to individual employees to decide.


Create a professional development plan for each manager to guide their continued learning. Set goals based on the areas each manager needs to improve. Determine the desired outcome for the professional development opportunities and what type of learning each manager plans to do to achieve those goals.


1:1 coaching

Using a leadership coaching approach lets you customize the manager development for each person. Coaching requires you to take an objective look at your manager’s daily routines and work habits. This lets you identify the things that are keeping your manager from leading effectively and help them overcome those obstacles.


Managers might need coaching help with a variety of issues, including:

  • Communication
  • Confidence
  • Conflict resolution
  • Employee engagement
  • Goal setting
  • Leadership style development
  • Productive relationships with employees

When coaching, you assess your managers, give them feedback and create an action plan. The coaching aspect continues as long as needed to support the manager in working through the action plan. A final evaluation lets you assess the success of the coaching program.


Mentorship programs

Assigning management mentors is a variation on coaching. A newer manager is assigned a mentor with extensive leadership skills. Choose mentors with good management skills who embody the leadership you want to develop in your newer managers.


The mentor guides the new manager by sharing their experiences and knowledge. They might teach the new manager specific skills. Mentors can also be a resource for new leadership team members when they have a problem or need advice on a particular situation. Instead of figuring out problems on their own, they have a go-to person to help.


Effective mentoring programs establish goals and outline how often mentors and mentees meet. Meetings are usually more frequent at the beginning of the program and might become less frequent as the new manager feels more comfortable in the role. The program should establish the length of the mentorship as well.


Peer learning groups

If you have multiple managers and departments within your company, peer learning groups offer another approach to improving management skills. Your managers meet regularly in self-directed sessions to share their management experiences, knowledge and skills. On-the-job learning happens every day, and peer learning groups give your managers a way to share that learning with one another.


Peer learning groups also encourage communication and collaboration between departments. This can help the overall operation and workflow by developing relationships, especially if the departments don’t normally interact with one another very often.


Manager development FAQs


How do you develop a new manager?

Moving into a leadership role can be a difficult transition, even for people who have leadership potential. New managers often need help transitioning from being a contributor on the team to leading the team. Fully understanding the responsibilities of a manager is a good start.


Instead of throwing a new manager into the role and letting them learn on the job, create a strategic development plan for the first year. Mentors can be especially helpful for new managers. Focus on bringing out the natural leadership skills the manager already has and improving or teaching the skills they lack.


What are effective goals for a manager?

The best goals for manager development are personalized for each person. Goals should address the specific areas each leader needs to improve. However, many management goals work for all leaders.


Here are some goal ideas for your managers:

  • Embrace a growth mindset.
  • Develop communication skills.
  • Earn a new certification related to management or your industry.
  • Build good working relationships with employees.
  • Develop active listening skills.
  • Improve time management.
  • Increase the efficiency of work processes.
  • Adapt better to change.
  • Learn how to motivate employees effectively.

With any goal, writing it down in specific terms helps develop a plan. Create measurable outcomes tied to a set timeline to encourage managers to achieve them.


What are three key managerial skills?

Communication is a top skill to focus on when developing management team members. Managers need to communicate clearly with their direct reports to reduce confusion, provide strong direction and solve problems quickly.


Strong decision-making skills are necessary since managers constantly make decisions, often quickly. Strong leaders are able to assess the situation rapidly, create a plan and take decisive action. They also evaluate the outcome and use that information to make better decisions in the future.


Being organized is another critical skill considering how much managers balance during the day. Strong managers are able to oversee multiple projects and keep the workflow moving well. They manage all of the moving parts efficiently while providing leadership for the team.

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