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April 26th, 2017

Developing Management Capability in Others

Lesley Fleming (Senior Consultant at Bourton Group – April 2017)

Much attention is paid to the difference between leading and managing, and the concept of ‘leadership’, quite rightly, gets considerable airtime in the learning and development arena. Never before has demonstrating the skills associated with capturing and engaging the commitment of people been more expected or more challenging.

However, the art of ‘management’ is equally important if that commitment is to have meaning. So, how is this different from ‘leadership’? An easy way to cut through the acres of academic research is to examine the origin of the term ‘manage’:

Mid 16th century ‘manage’ from Italian ‘maneggiare: “to handle”, “to control a horse”.

 

Although we no longer view our fellow employees as workhorses, this description does imply an element of regulation, a hint of continuous performance improvement, and a sense of these being achieved through some kind of hands-on activity.

So, whilst there are many formal learning and development opportunities to give new leaders the management basics, on the job coaching in the use of practical management tools and techniques provides real time support where it matters – in the workplace.

There are three immediate areas where you can help developing managers to generate the level of competence and confidence that will be fundamental to building their credibility and track record.

Focus

Firstly, you can help your developing leaders determine what needs to be achieved. Translating a high level corporate plan into team activity can be a minefield, let alone articulating what a long term corporate vision or set of values means at operational level.

A key tool that you can teach developing managers is a policy deployment matrix.

The steps to creating a policy deployment matrix are:

  • Identify the medium/long term (3-5 years) goals at corporate level, articulate these in relevant terms
  • Break the goal down into a set of short term objectives (1 year)
  • For each objective, agree the key tasks that need to be completed to achieve the objectives within the one-year frame
  • Prioritise the tasks against the objectives, using simple high, medium and low criteria
  • For each task, define the success criteria that will demonstrate achievement and allocate responsibility for the delivery to specific teams or individuals
  • Set up regular review processes
  • Cascade the steps as required to reflect the organisation structure (departmental, team, individual)

A robust, shared and publically displayed policy deployment matrix will keep team activity on track; ensure everyone understands the part they are playing; and flag up obstacles and delays in time for them to be addressed promptly.

Helping your developing managers to build the matrix for their own area will also clarify their own role in delivering business goals.  Encouraging them to develop the detail with their team will help establish their credibility in their new role and generate a collective sense of ownership of what needs to be done within the team.

 

You can reinforce the learning and encourage the agility and flexibility required in managing team effort through regular coaching.

Structure

Secondly, developing managers need help in determining how their reports are to work together if these goals are to be achieved. Without clear operating procedures, policies and ways of working people will tend to pursue objectives in the way that they think best. This may or may not be appropriate given the varying regulatory and corporate environments in which organisations operate. Helping new managers to set out the ground rules, define the scope and parameters for their teams and individuals is really important if they are to sustain a controlled and focused working environment.

A key tool which is invaluable in defining responsibilities is RASCI. Again, this is a fairly straightforward way to determine roles and communication channels which will ease the execution of day to day activity.

The steps to creating a RASCI matrix are:

1. List the tasks in the deployment matrix

2.List the people or job titles of the team/department responsible

3. For each task, identify:

  • who is actually responsible for seeing it is completed (i.e. the ‘do-er’), responsibility may be delegated to others as long as it is clear to whom!
  • who is ultimate accountable (ie the buck stops with them – for example, the team manager’s manager) usually accountability cannot be delegated
  • who will provide support to the responsible person (help them with the work), this constitutes helping out under the direction of the responsible person
  • who needs to be consulted in the decision making processes surrounding the completion of the task (this may be colleagues, other teams, other managers or other stakeholders)
  • who needs to be kept informed of progress or outcomes, as it will impact on their own activity

Like the policy deployment matrix, this tool may be developed collaboratively with those involved. This will help increase ownership and reduce the risk of communication breakdowns.

Careful cross referencing by those involved will also help ensure its internal integrity.

Once the RASCI matrix is completed, you can help managers to identify the training required for people to fulfil their role. Similarly, it may provide a useful opportunity to explore whether processes and ways are working are clear and effective.

Along with the policy deployment matrix, the RASCI is a way to give developing managers an unambiguous framework which they can pick up and run with themselves.

Discipline

Finally, let’s see how you can help developing managers build confidence that things will go to plan.

We have seen how management tools can help provide focus and structure, two components essential to ensure people know their contribution is owned and is important.

Sustaining the behaviours and activities that will deliver results in a coordinated and controlled manner will require discipline by all concerned. You can help developing managers keep hold of the reigns by encouraging them to hold regular team meetings. Here, performance indicators can be reviewed, obstacles to progress identified, and improvement opportunities tackled.

 

Conclusion

‘Management’ may be thought to be a somehow less glamourous task than ‘leadership’. Yet without a clear sense of focus, appropriate structure, and day to day discipline, much of the potential willingness and ability of so-called ‘engaged’ workforce risks being misdirected and ultimately wasted. Developing management skills in others through introducing and supporting the use of these simple tools is a vital task of all leaders.

Lesley is a senior Organisation Development and Change Management consultant. She specialises in the people aspect of change, focusing on developing leaders, teams and individuals to enable them to introduce and sustain business improvement methodologies, such as Lean.  She helps leaders to understand the operational and behavioural changes required to sustain Lean Thinking against a backdrop of rapidly changing political and economic climates. Lesley has developed a broad range of consultancy skills through leading and delivering major performance improvement programmes for her clients.

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