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What Can We Do To Support Line Managers?

Coach, mentor, facilitator, counsellor, resourcer, problem-solver, mediator, motivator, deliverer of praise and recognition, disciplinarian, trouble-shooter, protector, advocate, trainer, company ambassador, role model, intermediary, welfare officer, health and safety support, supporter, great listener, interpreter……..

Just a few of the roles that line managers have listed as their responsibility when we’ve asked them what they believe is included in their role during Metro HR line manager training days.

Most of these roles are the extra ‘hats’ being worn by line managers in addition to the workload they are already managing, in order to do their actual job. The majority of line managers have revenue generating or business-related tasks and activities to carry out too.

Being a line manager is a far bigger job than we realise.

It is no wonder that they sometimes feel overwhelmed and need support, particularly if they are new to the role.  It can be tempting to assume a line manager will organically grow into the job, but that is not always the case and you really shouldn’t leave it to chance.

Managing a team of people is both rewarding and challenging. Being a great leader doesn’t necessarily make you a good manager and vice versa, but, leadership and management skills complement each other and are equally important. I’m sure that if you look back over your own career history, you’ll be able to remember, that ‘great manager’ who encouraged, trained and supported you.  A good line manager has an incredibly positive and motivating impact on a team, resulting in engaged, committed, innovative and productive employees who will stay for the long haul.

In stark contrast, you will probably also be able to think back to a not so great line manager, and the experiences you had when working for them.  Underperforming or poorly behaved line managers have a detrimental impact on a team, and really drag individuals down.  They create conflict in teams and across an organisation, they cause stress and bad feeling and hold individuals back from wanting to step up. Their presence is demotivating and demoralising, can create a blame culture, increase staff turnover and reduce retention – which is costly to the business.

It’s worth saying again: employees ‘don’t leave jobs, they leave bad managers’.  Ideally you want your company to be known as a ‘great place to work’, not one that is constantly recruiting for the same roles, suggesting an internal problem. So, it’s worth spending some time to make sure your line managers are doing a good job.

Effective team management is about managing people well so they help manage the tasks and achieve the team’s, and, ultimately, the organisation’s objectives and goals.

Here’s our step-by-step approach to providing support and training to your line managers so that they can create functioning, effective teams:

  • Whether you discuss it at induction or on promotion to line manager, make sure your line managers understand where they fit into the organisation as a whole. What is their main role, their accountabilities, their responsibilities?
  • Explain why having great employees is a benefit to your organisation, and help them understand what a great employee for your business looks like.
  • Make sure they understand the organisation’s mission, vision, values and purpose. If a line or team manager doesn’t know the organisation’s direction of travel, how can they share or promote it to their team or direct reports?
  • Give them thorough training on the systems you have to help them line manage their teams. HR information systems that help track holidays and sickness, for example.
  • Ensure they understand their roles and responsibilities regarding company policies or procedures, and give them access to the forms or shortcuts that make tasks easier.
  • Talk to them about support tools and services the organisation might have access to, such as employee assistance programmes, occupational health services or pensions advisors, so they can offer this support to their team members where appropriate.
  • Don’t just assume that because they have manager in their title, they know how to manage well or that they don’t need support themselves, they may need some help and pointers, especially with more challenging employees.
  • Make sure line managers use their own managers for support. They should be having regular one-to-one review meetings with them – frequent conversations and constructive real-time feedback, is invaluable. If they are struggling to cope or need additional support, it will come out during these meetings.
  • Encourage reflective practice, particularly for new line managers. Understanding what went well, or didn’t, and the reason why, helps to determine how a situation might be handled in future.
  • Let them know when they are doing a great job and the value they are adding to the business.
  • Direct line managers to specific internal knowledge and expertise, they shouldn’t need to struggle to find something out, you are in this together!

Get in touch to find out more about how we deliver training and briefings to groups of line managers about what the role includes, how they fit into the organisation and the responsibilities that fall into their remit, particularly in relation to managing people.  We can help you to put all this in place in your business and allow your teams to thrive.

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