Have your team leaders lost their grip?
It’s a straight forward question: Have your team leaders lost their grip?
Managers, most of us have one. They are not always called managers of course. Sometimes they are called supervisors, team leaders, deputy manager, leader, VP, Boss. Whatever we call them or their official job title, they are our “line manager”.
We rely on them for guidance in our jobs. For support when things are not going well. For praise when things go well. For many employees in organisations our immediate line manager IS the management.
So why oh why do we not invest in them?
A case study in appointing Team Leaders
Joules is a receptionist in a Doctors practice. She has been working at the practice for over 5 years. She knows her stuff and is respected by patients and her peers.
One day the Practice Manager leaves. The senior doctor decides not to replace the Practice Manager. Instead the senior doctor appoints tow “Team leaders”. One for Administration and one for the reception teams. The original work of the Practice Manager is divided into two. Joules is approached about taking on the roles of Team Leader for Reception. She agrees.
Now the job comes with a small pay increase, some 10%. But her responsibilities change. She still has to do 80% of her old job, but now she has the team leader Role as well. This involves attending practice meetings, managing staff shifts/ rotations. Managing performance and sickness etc.
Joules is under pressure. Her manager (the senior doctor) needs things doing. Her team are being pushed to do even more work with less staff. The squeeze is on. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that as a result employee engagement is in decline. Patient satisfaction is in decline.
Joules had a one day course on “Being a team leader” – because that is all it needed…right? Well the Senior Doctor is defensive. Nothing is his fault. He cannot see the long term picture and is focused on short term goals only. There is no mentoring or support.
It is not unusual NOT to train managers
Multi million dollar organisations rely on their people. Many try to pay the front line employees as little as they can, Middle and senior managers are often well paid. Training opportunities are often aimed at middle to senior managers. Often in exclusive venues, with high profile trainers and leadership organisations. When was the last time your gave the same privileges to your team leaders?
As they say in the automotive industry, it’s where the rubber hits the road. There is no point having a powerful car with cheap tyres (tires).
The thing that stops a car faster than anything else is not the brakes. It is the QUALITY of the rubber as it touches the road. The friction or grip it creates.
Team Leaders or Supervisors ARE the tyres on your organization. The friction between the rubber and the road (your customers) is your front line staff. Poor tyres means poor traction. Poor traction equals lost customers and profit.
Why do we train our team leaders the least? The shortest time, the lowest cost and often the poorest quality. Then we wonder why employee engagement is poor and productivity low.
It is time for a revolution.
Being a manager. A manager at any level requires skills. Skills that were rarely needed before. Moving from a receptionist to team leader or engineer to project manager, or any move is a change of career. It requires different skills from before. You would not expect a person to give first aid without training. So why expect a receptionist to be a manager with no training.
You claim that “people are our greatest asset”. So where is the proof? Why not train people before they are appointed? Do you provide coaching to be managers that actually increases employee engagement? That increases productivity? That increases the happiness quotient in your people? So many questions, and yet few employers can provide the answers.
It’s time for change. If you want to keep your car (organization) on the road, change the tyres and put good ones on!
Have your team leaders lost their grip? For most organizations this is where the rubber meets the road. What is the state of your tyres (tires)? What training do you provide before they start their role? What regular checks do you do to ensure they are road worthy (ongoing training) ?