In many ways, HR needs to ‘lead the way’ when it comes to good leadership. Yet showing leaders how to be successful doesn’t just happen, it often requires specialised training and experience. One way of kickstarting this process is by obtaining an MBA with a specialisation in Managing and Leading People, to help you manage, motivate and inspire with leadership styles tailored to achieve your organisation’s strategic goals.
Define what a good leader is
Beyond managing operational efficiencies and solving immediate problems, managers need to be engaging leaders, inspiring their teams to perform at their best. There are some unique skills that naturally inclined leaders possess, such as conflict resolution, communication skills and problem-solving capabilities. However, the success of management doesn’t necessarily come down to possession of these skills alone. Success will look different from organisation to organisation.
It’s the responsibility of an HR department to define what qualities good leaders exemplify in their company. This may come down to involving team members in a cross-company activity to help define your organisation’s values and ideal leadership qualities. Findings can be presented in a document or video that describes in plain English what good leadership looks like. This can help to develop a set of standard expectations and a common language around leadership so that employees and managers are on the same page.
Make sure they understand their purpose
Effective leadership starts with articulating a clear ‘why’. HR should provide leaders in the organisation with a contextual understanding of what’s expected of them, and how their behaviours and responsibilities directly lead to success in the business.
Clarifying purpose is especially important for new managers, as transitioning into a management role can be overwhelming. New managers need to learn new skills while balancing existing duties. They need to assume responsibility for their team, while also completing their own work to the highest standard, as well as reporting to their own manager too. Feeling that they’re an integral part of a bigger plan can help new managers feel more motivated to succeed.
Prepare them for obstacles and challenges
Managers may face different challenges to other employees, and it’s HR’s responsibility to prepare them for these obstacles. Not only do managers need to tackle issues with their own work and wellbeing, but they also take on the vast array of challenges their employees face. These can include a range of interpersonal issues from conflicts and performance matters, to mental health or personal concerns. HR should provide resources and training to better prepare new managers for these potential challenges.
Keep in mind, there are times that even the most proficient leaders will need support. It’s important to help managers understand when an issue requires HR input. This may be scenarios such as hiring, termination, unusual leave requests or employee complaints.
People in management positions shouldn’t be left unsupported. HR needs to guide and assist them to set them up for success. This may involve more one-on-one time with their direct report, setting them up with mentors or exploring other professional development opportunities.
Some managers who have come from highly technical roles need help developing their soft skills, such as negotiation, conflict resolution and communication. Managers who have transitioned from another area of the business or another industry altogether may need extensive support to understand the subject matter and learn what their team does on a day-to-day basis.
Other practical things HR can do to support managers include:
· Develop their skills in running good meetings
· Teach them how to prioritise building trust with their team
· Set clear expectations around how to conduct performance reviews
· Clarify when they should seek help from senior management
· Encourage them to admit they don’t know it all – nor do they need to.
Create opportunities for continuous learning
HR can help leaders achieve success in their roles by fostering an environment of continuous learning and improvement. They should encourage and facilitate development opportunities for managers of all experience levels.