I’ve been asked to put together a Leadership Development Programme for a fast expanding business.
Fair play to the business, it recognises the things it used to do when there were 5 people are no longer fit for purpose, now that there’s 130 staff. It also realises that it can’t achieve its plans to reach 500 staff in the next 4 years if it doesn’t invest into people management.
Great… all going swimmingly so far.
So, I’ve been asked (well, we’ve been asked, actually) to put together a long term programme, rather than a single course, that will help develop management skills and strategic vision for their people. Okay, sounds dangerously like corporate speak to me, but we’ll let it go because there is a clear view of what the output of the programme needs to be.
All in all, then fantastic; a business that knows it needs to change and is prepared to trust us with the programme inputs as long as we achieve their specified outputs.
It’s a dream… or is it?
It was time to meet the managers as we started to put together the programme. Unsettlingly, the HR manager (who is absolutely brilliant) said that I needed to form my own opinion of each manager.
So, I started at the top: how’s your management style? Oh, brilliant, says the boss, I don’t need any improvement, it’s the others really.
At this point there was a knock on the door and in came a minion to present something to the boss: “what the f*£! is this load of s%^&. (Shouting now). That’s not what I wanted. Jeez, you people just can’t do anything right. Get back out there and do it again. (Exasperated now). Oh, don’t turn on the waterworks, love. Just get out.”
There was a stunned silence for a moment as the door closed.
‘Er… how do you think that went? I asked.
‘Oh, fine, fine,’ came the reply, all reasonableness. ‘I think it’s important to keep staff on their toes, don’t you? Stick with me and I’ll teach you a thing or two about people management.’
I’m sure he will.
And the pattern was repeated around the business. Most managers were using the boss as a role model, except the ones who didn’t like shouting so much, who were stressed and overworked.
The issue is not that all the managers need development… if they didn’t we wouldn’t have a job and, after all, everyone can improve.
No, the issue is that the managers, as individuals, don’t know they need development, they just think everyone else does.
Time to raise awareness, I think. Because if we don’t and we simply deliver a training programme this group of mangers will think we’re talking to everyone else and not take things on board themselves!