“Great managers aren’t born — they’re trained.”
That’s the message Scott Blanchard, principal and EVP with The Ken Blanchard Companies, is sharing with audiences as he speaks to groups of leadership, learning and talent-development professionals.
Blanchard points to research that shows most managers don’t receive that necessary training, however, until they are about 10 years into their managerial career.
“The effects are damaging at both an individual and organizational level,” says Blanchard. “More than 60 percent of new managers underperform or fail in their first two years. And those who survive without managerial training often find themselves with negative habits that are hard to break — which can hold them back for years to come.”
With more than two million new people stepping up to leadership for the first time each year in the U.S. alone, Blanchard believes organizations need to take management training a lot more seriously.
“It is very important that those responsible for organizational training put together an effective curriculum for developing people into trusted professional managers. As a professional manager, you are responsible for what your direct reports do, and to some degree, how they feel — especially the emotional connection they establish with their job and the company.
While some people’s influence and communication skills come naturally, every manager can learn and develop the skills they need regardless of their starting point, says Blanchard.
“Some people naturally understand how to work with others collaboratively and how to build rapport, while others come to leadership from a less developed starting point. But you still need a system if you are going to succeed as a manager. It’s something everyone can benefit from.”
According to Blanchard, all great managers do four things:
“Great managers begin by establishing clarity for their people through clear goals, accountability and personal responsibility. Second, they intervene appropriately when things are going well — and when things aren’t going well. Third, they adapt their leadership style to what is needed by appropriately identifying a direct report’s development level on a task and then modifying their style to best serve the direct report at that stage.
“Finally, great managers know how to create long-term, long-lasting relationships that are evidenced by trust and engagement over time. This results in people who stay with the organization, talk positively about the organization to others, and perform at high levels in a collaborative manner.”
Blanchard explains that effective managers connect the dots between the work of the person, the work of the unit, and the work of the organization as a whole. They understand the correlation of action, motivation and commitment. They successfully manage both performance and employee satisfaction.
“Great managers help people see the bigger picture from whatever seat they occupy,” says Blanchard, “and that can be a challenge. People’s careers rise and fall and managers need to be there with coaching skills to help people through the ups and downs — even when there isn’t a clear path forward.
“These powerful skills almost always have to be developed through training — and once learned, they can help people focus and find a way forward in any situation.”