In a recent article, Monique Valcour points out that technical experts are often asked to lead teams, but their expertise is not in managing people. As a result, they get frustrated, underperform, and leave their teams floundering without appropriate direction.
Where Does Responsibility Lie?
Part of this is the responsibility of the organization, which hasn’t clarified what management really entails or provided the necessary training to help the new managers succeed.
The managers also share responsibility to honestly assess their capabilities, recognize their challenges, and seek out opportunities to fill in their skill gaps.
Skill Deficiency Identification
Ms. Valcour recommends three initial steps that new managers should take. These are consistent with what The Peer Learning Institute does in peer learning groups to help managers develop the interpersonal management skills they need.
First, managers should identify a leadership competency they’d like to have. In our peer learning groups, the managers gather because they are facing a similar management challenge that they need new ideas to handle.
Second, they should reflect and seek input, so they have a better understanding of the challenge. Our peer learning materials help the managers explore the root causes of their challenge.
Third, they should identify specific behaviors to change or implement. Our materials provide alternative behaviors the managers can practice using to better address their shared challenge.
Management Skill Development
Ms. Valcour stops there. The Peer Learning Institute goes further, adding three more steps.
Fourth, they should practice implementing the new behaviors they’ve identified. Our peer learning group process provides weekly support and reinforcement for the managers as they test their new behaviors for a month.
Fifth, they should reflect on their experience. We have them keep a log of what they did, what happened, and what they learned from the situation.
Sixth, they should be held accountable for using their new behaviors. We have them report to their group members on what they did, what they learned from the experience, and how they plan to handle similar challenges in the future.
A Shared Responsibility
Organizations should recognize that new managers need help developing their skills and provide the necessary training and support. On their side, the managers need to be self-aware enough to recognize their skill deficiencies and take action to remedy them. Contact Deborah Laurel at The Peer Learning Institute to learn how peer learning groups can help.
Question: How do your technical experts get management skills?
You can read Monique Valcour’s article, Transform Your Technical Expertise into Leadership, at https://hbr.org/2021/05/transform-your-technical-expertise-into-leadership?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=dailyalert_notactsubs&deliveryName=DM133840