Every month we are interviewing a thought leader from the People & Organization space to share their expert insights with our community.

This month we are interviewing Judith Jungmann, who as CHRO of the Beckers Group is responsible for the people ops of about 2000 employees. She previously served as SVP Human Resources and Communication for the Scout 24 Group in Munich, which employs about 1000 people.

How do you develop and support first time managers effectively?

In my experience the most effective measure is to start off with a training for new managers. This should best be done with a group of peers.

My success factors are choosing the right trainer and communicating the right purpose for the training. I prefer trainers with a psychology backgroundand thorough trainer education. I always invested time into finding the best trainers for a particular company. The purpose set for the training is also important. Always let new managers know that the training is not an assessment but that the training serves to enable them to become better in their new roles. Position the HR department as the new managers’ partner for becoming great people leaders.

Regarding the timing I strongly believe that it is most effective to train new managers only once they have started in their new roles. Doing the training then is more effective as certain challenges have already been experienced first hand. After the training the new manager can then also directly apply the learnt. So don’t start training before, do it once the new position has started.

What are the training objectives?

The training should have three key objectives:

The first objective is help the manager to “know thyself”, so always start with a self reflection part. This can involve a personality test or a full 360. Doing this helps the manager to get a feeling for his/ her impact on people. This can already have a huge impact.

The second objective is to ensure that the new manager has a very clear understanding of the company culture. Actively reviewing, discussing and acknowledging the company culture helps to ensure that the manager is able to convey and role model this company culture.

The third objective is to understand situational leadership (Note: You may find a brief explanation on what situational leadership is here.). During the training new managers practice that different management responses are needed for different people and in varying situations. This part of the training should be very hands on and involve a lot of role play. The role play should focus on practicing challenging situations some of which the new manager might have already experienced themselves. In my experience this often leads to an immediate gain of self confidence in the new role.

Today an effective people manager must before all else be an effective coach. This entails for example asking questions rather than providing answers, and supporting employees in structuring challenges and gathering information rather than micromanaging. Effective coaching must be learnt — through training, peer coaching and feedback. A tremendously helpful tool for helping managers understand this change is asking the two questions “What brought you here?” versus “What gets you there?”. This model helps understand how previous behaviors and habits that have been successful in a previous role need to be stopped or changed, and new manager behaviors and habits need to be learnt and adopted. The model is based on Marshall Goldsmith’s work. (Note: Learn more about his concepts in these short videos.). Addressing this transition into the new role and holding managers accountable with peer coaching, feedback or leadership surveys can help managers to develop new important habits.

Why is peer coaching among new managers important?

After the training the focus should be on peer coaching between managers. Peer coaching is a powerful tool to help new and also experienced people managers to learn from another and continue learning and developing. Peer coaching means discussing challenges among peers, actively providing feedback and learning from one another. It often does not happen enough as individuals are afraid to share their challenges with others. However once someone has experienced the value of peer coaching first hand, it becomes more natural and valuable over time. That’s why I believe it is the HR department’s role to provide a first impulse and get people to initially try peer coaching and experience its great value. HR professionals can generate this initial trigger via pairing, competitions, events, gamification or also the help of tools or business coaches.

What is the return on new manager development?

It is tremendously important that HR professionals make executives aware of the ROI of new manager development. Bad managers are the number one reason why top talent and experts leave companies. Rehiring for this loss is always expensive. Get your executives’ agreement on the importance of good people managers for the company’s bottom line. Then let them experience the value and impact of the proposed measures such as trainings, 360s, peer coaching or leadership surveys first hand. For particularly data-driven executives compare the investment made into the maintenance of assets such as machines or software versus the investment made into the asset people. This often demonstrates a striking shortage of investment into the “maintenance” of a company’s people. And make one thing crystal clear, developing managers is an investment not a cost.

Categories: Thought Leaders