When people move into their first management role it is big shift into a role where their expertise is no longer their technical skills but in their ability to work with others.
I have observed that some team leaders just hope that the team will look after itself and get on with their technical work. This is often one of the causes of complaints from team members about their team leader not listening or caring.
Traditionally a short “Introduction to Team Leading” course might be offered but the difficulty was this was the although the course was enjoyable the learning was rarely reinforced. This is why it helps to create some blended learning options that will combine input of new skills and knowledge with practical work tasks.
This simple diagram shows how three elements can sit together to provide a richness of learning. The final design is often a bit more complex than this because it can involve on-line elements, self assessment and peer assessment.
It is a real benefit to bring a group of team leaders together to work on a learning programme. By sharing their experiences with each other they discover that they are not alone in finding it a challenge to make the transition into management.
It is sad that so much more investment is provided for senior leadership development when the people who often have more day-to-day contact with employees get neglected!
When approaching team leader development these are some of the main areas you need to build into your development programmes:
- opportunities to share the experiences of being a team leaders with peers
- create honest and open feedback between the team leader, their manager and their peers
- focus on the topics of current concern to your team leaders in your business – ask them what they want to cover, don’t just accept a standard menu of items.
- different ways of learning will appeal to different people, create a richer mix of options including using your on-line resources
- set expectations about implementing the learning by creating assessed work tasks
- offer opportunities for reflections – both with peers and via a coach or mentor
- make sure your senior management team are role modelling the behaviour they want from the team leaders!