Who comes first – you, your team or your organisation?


Over the weekend I was reading through a 2013 research report from the CIPD that identified that lack of support to managers led to leadership problems and a crisis in organizational culture – a situation that I believe still remains.

One critical discovery revealed that 36% of line managers surveyed had not received any training for their role and that time for effective line management was too often squeezed or lost in favor of more immediate task-oriented priorities. This position was further exacerbated with 24% of the managers facing situations where they often had to put the interests of the organization above the interests of their team members!

This left many staff confused and unsure of roles and responsibilities, which damaged important relationships that could have otherwise driven higher performance working. It also raised questions about the importance that managers – and their organizations – attached to the well-being of staff.

I have regularly seen evidence of this in over forty years of working in leadership and management roles… and have even experienced it at first hand. Poor leadership and management is tolerated, it seems to me, to a shocking degree. Referring back to the CIPD research, 28% of organizations failed to act upon poor feedback on line managers and nearly half (48%) confessed that individuals were promoted into managerial roles based on their performance record, rather than their people management or leadership skills.

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Organisations trot out the mantra – ‘our staff are our greatest resource’ – and then spend far more time and money addressing issues of systems, protocols and procedures, rather than investing in the greatest resource – the people who make things happen!

In my leadership career, the effective supervision of staff has always been a pivotal, consistent practice. Regular supervision of staff has helped me to reinvigorate their focus, bring clarity to their role and contribution, and enabled meaningful dialogue about what I might do to support them in their everyday work. I developed far more effective relationships, empowered and enabled more staff, by being supportive in this way, complemented by ‘walking the job’. I still think that “walking the job” is greatly under-rated.

On a recent interim management assignment staff were astonished, in response to a need for staff cover of a particular delivery session, when I stepped into the role. “But you’re management!” one member of staff squeaked, in a somewhat startled voice. “That’s right”, I replied, “But I can do this  … and I do not want to let down our young people by cancelling the session!”

A simple but powerful lesson ensued and my ‘street credibility’ with the team, another way for defining their trust in me, grew greatly. This was built upon by regular visits to them in their workplaces, engaging staff and young people in conversation, and learning from those encounters and turning that intelligence into better practice.

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If you can complement this approach with regular,  effective coaching, then your staff will feel more valued, more engaged, more supported and better able to build their own self-confidence, knowledge and understanding of their own capabilities. What better way to avoid leadership problems and cultural crisis in your organization?

So, if you are encountering poor support in your organization, or you’d like to better support your team in the absence of any other support organizationally, you might like to contact me to discuss how I might serve you better. I am always happy to listen and ready to help.

The full CIPD report, “Real life leaders – closing the knowing-doing gap” can be found on: http://www.cipd.co.uk/hr-resources/real-life-leaders.aspx

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