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It's Too Easy to Say Manager Led Development is the Answer!

It's Too Easy to Say Manager Led Development is the Answer!


Managers spend 21% of their time developing direct reports according to CLC.  However, the CLC research indicates the more time a manager spent did not necessarily mean that they were more effective.  1 to 2 hours a week was enough. The CLC propose the solution for managers is a range of Manager-Led Development Activities: creating individual development plans, giving employees advice based on their own experiences, ensuring projects are learning experiences, passing along development opportunities and assessing development progress.

I would have to say this answer is too superficial.  Like me you are probably thinking you commissioned a piece of research to discover this!  There are many reasons why something so simple is not being done.  If you sit down with managers to understand why it’s not being done, then the real answer is there.  Once you have the tools such as individual development plans, none of which are rocket science there are prerequisites that need to be present.

  • An environment where managers are coached and supported to be effective managers
  • An environment that supports and recognises development
  • A culture of personal ownership of development so that it is a two way contract
  • A culture where sharing of knowledge and learning is rewarded, and the withholding of knowledge is not a mechanism to have power in a company.
  • Tools that facilitate the speed and ease of feedback, development opportunities and updates on progress at an enterprise level for large organisations.

The answer is to sit down with your employees and managers.  The Head of Personal Growth for Google illustrates how tackling the pre-requisite conditions are how you achieve development

11 Factors for Successful Talent Management

11 Factors for Successful Talent Management

  1. Get the foundations right.  What does success require in your organisation now.  Too often I see competency frameworks that are over complicated, not updated, or not flexible enough to be able to adjust to different cultural needs.  Talent is a mixture of performance and potential, so have a strong foundation to reflect on that.
  2. Regular reflection.  Forget just having an annual process.  We have always talked about regular feedback, but we drag managers through a yearly and often laborious process.  There is so much technology to hand like Rypple that allows for regular feedback.
  3. Think about what leadership you require.  What is your capability gap, what are your success factors?  There is no one right way to successful leadership.  Different companies require different things, some need to navigate in a mature environment and some need a tribe of leaders throughout the business to innovate.
  4. When you understand what you need think about where can I source that Talent.  In sourcing Talent don’t just stick to the same industry.  Your organisation might be going through points of pain now that another industry has faced in the past, or a different customer groups you want to attract.  For example, the maturity and decrease of subsidisation faced in the wind industry now could be compared to issues that ship builders or aviation manufacturers   Homogeneous mind-sets can come back to bite you.
  5. Where are your points of pain?  You will have different points of pain where it will hurt the delivery of your business goals.  A lot will depend on your budget.   It may not be possible to provide for the needs of all talent, you may have or want to differentiate your offering.  Do you need new talent for the future, or bench strength now because you have an executive board that will need successors in the near future?
  6. Do not undervalue experience and exposure.  Once you have identified the gaps think about what you have available that can expose your Talent to the required skills and capabilities to fill the gap.  There is great value in mentoring, coaching, the right projects and regular feedback.
  7. Owned by the CEO and the executive team.  Question the CEO and executive team on what are their business challenges?  Some may or may not translate into Talent problems, and some may be burning platforms.  In my experience there are often burning platforms, which give you the engagement of the right people.  Get sponsors on the executive board to own and define the problem, the outputs and the process of designing, building, implementing and maintaining the program.
  8. Built by the business.  The middle managers and team leaders should be involved in the design and build of the programme.  They will know what will work for them, what is practical and the collaboration increases the success of the program.  You can also engage employees in a pilot, which brings valuable feedback on language and cultural differences that need to be taken into account.
  9. Business Continuity.  The responsibility of the program should remain with the business.  HR should not take ownership, it will simply be seen as something that HR will manage we nominate the Talent, and then hand over to HR.  This will only give a short-term success to the program.

10. HR Facilitation.  HR needs to continually facilitate the process, inspiring leaders and having corridor conversations.  For example, if a leader is visiting APAC they could meet up with some of those on the Talent Pool so that they have a view of their people.

11. Measure.  Define the measures of success with the executive team.  Measures I have implemented before are bench-strength, time to recruit, cost of attrition and numbers at risk.  This facilitates regular conversations, actions and business continuity.

Managers are stretched let's ask different questions

Managers are stretched let's ask different questions


Mintzberg contributed to challenging the view that managers organise, co-ordinate and plan.  His 1973 research observed 5 CEO’s and discovered the exact opposite.  He saw that managers were working at an unrelenting pace characterised by “brevity, variety and discontinuity” and dislike reflective activities (Mintzberg, March - April 1990). Well what’s changed between 1973 and now, if anything managers are even more stretched.  On implementing a process in a recent organisation, I worked with Managers to understand their barriers.  The manager told me that they knew it was important, it’s not because they don’t want to do it, but they don’t have the time in the day.  We put so much on our managers that we have diverted their energy from what they should be doing, which is managing their people. So the question then should be if you know that this is important, what do you want to stop doing?  What in your view does not add value?

Half of the activities Mintzberg observed lasted less than 90 minutes.  He identified a cluster of ten roles, which stem from a manager’s formal authority and status - Interpersonal Roles: Figurehead, Leader and Liaison.  Followed by Informational Roles: Monitor, Disseminator and Spokesperson, and finally Decisional Roles: Entrepreneur, Disturbance Handler, Resource Allocator and Negotiator. Arguably Mintzberg initial work provided only a basic understanding of managerial behaviours.

In developing your organisation think about these roles, the formation requirements will vary for different roles, but consider what the main focus needs to be.  Then how can we enable our managers to get back to managing people.Image

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