Do You Need to Improve New Manager Training?
It is not easy to find an organization that does not want to improve new manager training.  Why are so many leaders disappointed in the impact of their new manager training?

Managers are Being Asked to do More
To increase productivity and speed up decision making, most companies have flattened their organizational structure giving their managers wider responsibility over more employees.

Management Practices Matter
According to a recent Harvard Business Review Study and research by McKinsey, the most enduringly successful companies, those delivering a 10-fold return to investors over a ten year period, excel at management practices.

Spending on Management Development Remains High
According to Deloitte, the number one area of training spending (35%) is management and leadership.

Manager Performance is Not Meeting Expectations
Senior executives and nonexecutive managers are unhappy with the performance of their companies’ frontline managers. According to McKinsey, nearly 70% of senior executives are only “somewhat” or “not at all satisfied” with the performance of their companies’ frontline managers. And a stunning 81% of frontline managers are not satisfied with their own performance.

What’s Wrong with the Training That Is Supposed to Get New Managers Ready to Manage?
Effective new manager training has to deliver far more than what can be learned by spending a day or two in a classroom. It requires commitment, planning, customization and follow-through.

Four Steps to Improve New Manager Training
Here is the advice we give our clients who are determined that their new manager training will have a significant and lasting impact on their business.

Step One
Begin with a clear and compelling corporate strategy. What are you trying to accomplish in the next one-to-three years and where do managers fit into that overall plan?

If you have decided, for instance, that your business success depends upon stronger relationships with your customers, identify the behaviors and attitudes that, when regularly demonstrated, will strengthen those relationships. Then set out to develop and reward those behaviors.

Step Two
Understand the critical few management scenarios that matter most for your business.  For example, if you really want to change your culture so that customers are truly “Number One,” you need to understand the management skills needed at the moments of truth where it matters most. Then skill building scenarios and coaching can be focused on those situations, challenges and scenarios.

Step Three
Accept that training and development will be an ongoing change initiative, not a one-time event. Learning comes slowly at first. Be patient but stay focused.

Step Four
Set up systems that measure and celebrate progress. As a leader of the effort, you should carefully observe the successes and be ready to tweak the programs as needed. Only then will you appreciate the positive difference effectively trained new managers can make.

The Bottom Line
Do not be satisfied with management training programs unless they address the specific situations, skills and behaviors that align with your strategy, reflect the context in which your employees operate and are fully supported by leadership.

To learn more about how improve new manager training, download  3 Steps to Building a Smarter Training Initiative – One that Gets Business Results

How to Become a Magnet for the Best Talent
Ever noticed that the organizations you admire for their culture and success seem to know how to become a magnet for the best talent?  It’s not a coincidence.

Some firms have cracked the code on aligning their strategy with their culture and their talent…this is their recipe for success.  Indeed, we see talent as one-third of the recipe for sustainable growth.

When Aligned, Strategy + Culture + Talent = Business Success
Here’s our proven alignment philosophy and the steps you can take to attract, develop, engage and retain the top talent that makes sense for your specific business strategy and unique organizational culture.

Our organizational alignment research found:

  • Strategic clarity accounts for 31%
  • Corporate culture accounts for 40%, and
  • Talent accounts for 29%

of the difference between high and low performing organizations.

Six Talent Management Tips
Much has been written about strategy and culture. If you want to know how to become a magnet for the best talent, these talent management tips will keep your team firing on all cylinders.

  1. Get Leadership Support and Commitment
    Leadership must be on board. Company leaders set the tone and direction of the organization. For a talent management program to succeed, leaders need to buy into and fully support the strategies and investments to attract, develop, engage and retain talent at every stage.
  2. Selectively Target and Recruit
    Know what attributes and behavioral competencies you need in your employees and where to find them. Recruit them by sharing your company values, culture and purpose. The closer your culture matches the culture they want, the more likely they will thrive and stay.
  3. Ensure High Performance Standards
    Top talent wants to know that excellence is valued and that substandard performance is not tolerated. They want to work with the best. This is the kind of high performance environment that challenges, energizes and inspires top talent.
  4. Be Clear About Desired Behaviors
    “A” players appreciate clear expectations. Employees want to know what behaviors are most valued so they can be guided by company principles and act in a manner that brings them recognition, promotion and success.
  5. Have Career Development Opportunities
    To retain top talent, you need to provide a clear path ahead and opportunities for learning and growth. The fastest way to disengage and drive away your best and most ambitious employees is to keep them in a dead-end job. Give your high potentials the chance to thrive.
  6. Conduct Frequent Reviews
    Many managers make the mistake of spending the bulk of their coaching time on their underperforming team members. Instead, they should stay in closer touch with their high performers who often crave feedback and recognition. Let your high performers know what they can do to get better and prune your team of unproductive and unwilling-to-change workers.

The Bottom Line
If you want to outperform your peers, keep talent management as high of a priority as your strategy and your culture. Invest wisely in employee selection, engagement and development. With more and more companies competing for scarce talent, you cannot afford to underemphasize the people component of your business.

To learn more about how to become a magnet for the best talent, download Why Talent Is Only 1/3rd of the Talent Management Recipe for Success

Growth is Limited When Strategy and Culture Are at Odds
When strategy and culture are at odds, it is nearly impossible to reach your business potential.  Why?  Because your strategy must go through your people and your culture to be implemented.

Examples of Misaligned Strategies and Cultures
Imagine the struggle when your overall strategy competes with your corporate culture.

  • Customer Focus Example: Imagine the difficulty in executing a strategy to deliver long-term and relationship-based value (a customer intimate approach) like Whole Foods Market in an organizational culture that values short-term, transactional interactions (a transactional customer approach) like McDonalds.
  • Market Approach Example: Imagine the difficulty of bringing new and innovative software solutions to market (a market leader approach) like Tesla if the predominant organizational culture focuses on legacy hardware products and only introduces new products to market after the market has shown they work (a market adopter approach) like Kia.
  • Decision-Making Approach Example: Imagine the difficulty of making effective and timely decisions in the field if the predominant organizational culture values all significant decisions be made by top leadership (a centralized approach) like the US Military versus allowing individuals to make decisions at the front line (a decentralized approach) like Southwest Airlines.

Strategy and Culture Alignment Matter
Our organizational alignment research found companies that align their culture and talent with their strategy companies grow revenues 58% faster, are 72% more profitable and outperform unaligned companies in terms of customer retention, leadership and employee engagement.

Your corporate strategy is the path you intend to take to grow your business. But when your approaches and workforce are oriented in a different direction, there is little chance you will achieve the business results you hope for.

Four Steps to Take When Strategy and Culture Are at Odds
Here are four steps to take when your strategy and culture are at odds:

  1. Clarify Strategic Goals
    You would be surprised to learn how many companies try to change their culture before they have a clearly defined strategy for success. While we applaud the intentions behind improving corporate culture, we know that a culture must align with and support a clear, believable and implementable strategy if you want it to help move your strategy forward.
  2. Agree Upon Your Current Culture
    Too many leadership teams begin culture change by defining their desired culture. While the desired culture is important to articulate, we find it to be more effective to begin with a candid conversation and clear agreement about the state of the current culture.  Until you agree upon where you are, it is difficult to create a path to where you want to be.
  3. Define the Culture You Need to Execute Your Strategy
    Once your business strategy is clear and you have a good handle on your current workplace culture, it is time to define the cultural attributes required to best execute your strategy. We like to look at ten cultural dimensions:
    • Market Approach – from adopter to leader
    • Customers – from transactional to intimate
    • Loyalty – from individual to company
    • Focus – from internal to external
    • Risk Tolerance – from low to high
    • Operational Approach – from low to high process variation
    • Decision Making – from centralized to decentralized
    • Information – from fact-based to intuition-based
    • Atmosphere – from social to disciplined
    • Results – from “the how” to “the what”
  1. Prioritize the Critical Few Cultural Changes that Matter Most
    When it comes to culture change, we have found less is more. Trying to make more than one or two major cultural shifts at once is often the recipe for disaster.  Pick the one or two cultural changes that matter most to your strategy and worry about the rest later.

The Bottom Line
When your strategic priorities are supported by the daily behaviors and attitudes of your workforce, everyone pulls in the same direction…toward high growth and success.

To learn more about what to do when your strategy and culture are at odds, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture

If You Want Strategic Growth, Your Leadership Team Must Think Bigger
If you want strategic growth, you must start with strategic clarity.  Our organizational alignment research found strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low growth companies.

Those that outperform their peers, think bigger.

How To Beat the Odds
There’s something seriously wrong with the way most companies conceive, design and implement their strategic growth plans if, as most studies say, only 1-in-10 strategic growth plans meet expectations. Companies need to do things differently if they want to succeed with their strategic plans.

Three Ways to Think Bigger for Strategic Growth
We believe leadership teams often have too narrow a scope at the beginning of the strategic growth planning process. To accelerate strategic growth, they need to think bigger.

  1. Start with Your Customer’s Customer, Not with Yourself
    Instead of focusing inward on what the company can achieve , think about what your target market’s customers need and want to thrive.Let’s say you’re in the business of designing, manufacturing and selling automobiles. You have a top-selling sedan, but the competition is quickly catching up by replicating the features that put you at the head of the pack.

    You could continue to invest in a sleeker car with more high-end gadgets, but you need to wonder if this is the right way to go. What is your target market calling out for?

    Until your go-to-market strategy makes sense for your target market, it is difficult to accelerate growth.

  2. Develop a Strategic Growth Focus, Not a Series of Lists
    Put together a strategic growth concept that underpins and drives all business decisions. You need to be crystal clear about your game plan for success.
  • Who are your target buyers?
  • How will you differentiate yourself from the competition?
  • How fast should you shift away from legacy products and customers?
  • Should you treat different regions and verticals differently?

Resist the temptation to move into strategic execution until your strategic growth plans are understood, believable and implementable by your key stakeholders.  It is far easier and more effective for your workforce to be guided by a clear and simple concept rather than by a series of actions that can confuse people and sometimes even compete with each other.

  1. Invest Where It Counts, Not toward the “Squeaky Wheel”
    It is difficult and costly to “fight” on multiple fronts at the same time. To accelerate strategic growth, concentrate your most important resources where they will have the greatest impact.A few strategic growth moves with sufficient funding to be fully implemented are going to get you farther down the road than spreading your resources too thin. Make sure you align your budget with your strategic priorities.

The Bottom Line
To accelerate growth, keep the strategic priorities front and center.  Then actively involve all stakeholders in adjusting and delivering the strategy focused on your customers and the critical few things that matter most.

To learn if your strategic growth plans are clear enough to cascade across your organization, download 7 Strategic Clarity Warning Signs to Pay Attention To

What You Do After an Employee Engagement Survey Matters
Good for you! You recognized the importance of assessing your level of employee engagement as part of your talent management strategy to improve employee advocacy, discretionary effort and retention.

In our experience, designing and administering employee engagement surveys is the easy part.  While it is a great start, the survey is just the beginning. Engagement surveys provide the data you need to improve, but you must take concrete action to improve employee engagement and retention.

Six Steps to Take After an Employee Engagement Survey
Now it’s time to figure out what you will do next. What engagement actions do you need to take to really move the needle on engagement levels?

  1. Continue to Measure Engagement Levels
    Please don’t groan. We’re not talking about the lengthy and no-more-than-once-a year assessment you have just finished.We’re talking about mini pulse surveys that are distributed periodically to measure reactions to change, test the effect of new policies, or to further explore specific concerns highlighted in the larger survey.

    Pulse surveys are quick to administer, easy to analyze and give helpful feedback on specific issues. Don’t forget to share these analytics; employees deserve to get the information and see progress too!

  2. Ensure Engagement Goals Are Clear and Well Understood
    Company objectives regarding talent and performance may be clear to you as a leader, but are you sure your followers are focused on the right goals and behaviors? Ask them.
  3. Recognize Moves in the Desired Direction
    Set up a system that allows you to give meaningful and proportionate kudos to employees who are demonstrating the behaviors that boost engagement. By shining a light on desired behaviors, you increase awareness of how you want your employees to act and what attitudes you respect and honor.
  4. Give Meaningful Feedback
    360-degree feedback is often the most helpful because the employee is able to understand how they are viewed from multiple perspectives. But any well-intentioned, timely and constructive feedback can help improve performance. Effective feedback should be an integral part of your performance management process.
  5. Frequent One-on-one Meetings
    One-on-one sessions that are designed not just to discuss performance but to help employees thrive can give you an inside track on what your employees are thinking and feeling vis-à-vis their job and career path.
  • What do they like to do?
  • Where can they contribute most?
  • What is standing in the way?
  • What do you need from the company?
  1. Provide Encouragement and Suggestions
    To keep the focus on improvement, send out and solicit ideas for ways to further engage employees. Invite all to participate and share their success stories.

The Bottom Line
An annual employee engagement survey can get you pointed in the right direction. Wisely timed pulse-checks can help to keep your finger on how things are going.  Now it’s up to you and your managers to take action and lead the company through the next steps.

To learn more about improving employee engagement, download The Top 10 Most Powerful Ways to Boost Employee Engagement.

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