The skills that make an employee an excellent individual contributor or practitioner do not often translate to success as a supervisor or manager. Being responsible for the motivation and performance of a person or team requires a whole new skill set.
The resulting skill gap is highlighted in a survey conducted by the Tracom Group in 2007. That survey of 166 executives, 337 managers and 377 staff focused on how managerial responsibilities, specifically communication and conflict management, affect company performance. In the study, 84.8 percent of executives said communication skills were deficient among first-level managers, while 81.9 percent of managers and 85 percent of staff pegged poor communication as a cause of poor productivity in the workplace. In addition, 69.4 percent of the managers surveyed said their ability to better handle conflict would improve their team’s performance.
Of course, management development training is one of the most effective ways to enhance the communication and conflict resolution skills of managers. Unfortunately, one of the areas companies cut to minimize expenses during the recent recession was employee training. As a result, many supervisors and managers do not have the skills necessary to properly drive business performance and lead their teams to success. In a late 2009 survey conducted by the American Society for Training & Development of 1,179 companies, 31 percent of those companies cited managerial/supervisory skills as one of their greatest skill needs.
A March 2010 study done by Rainmaker Thinking further demonstrates the impact supervisors and managers have on overall performance. In the research, those companies that focused their efforts on increasing supervision and management, and creating a performance-based culture driven by supervisors and managers, had better results throughout the recession than companies that pursued other strategies such as cost cutting or innovation.
It’s clear that without the proper training, supervisors and managers will not be set up to succeed in their role. Many will become frustrated with their inability to produce results. Even worse, their techniques may leave the company liable to lawsuits.
As the economic recovery takes hold, organizations will be relying heavily on their managers to meet new customer demand and to keep their employees engaged so that they will stay with the company. To meet that challenge, employers must evaluate their supervisors and managers and invest now in the skills they need to excel in their role.