Being a good manager doesn’t necessarily translate into being a good leader. Often, employees who get promoted to management positions have steadily increased their responsibility levels within the organization or possess excellent technical skills. However, while these employees often possess these “hard skills” they are sometimes lacking the “soft skills” that allow them to be effective leaders for their teams.
Promoting employees from within is a very common practice in the hardwood lumber industry. At American Lumber, we like to reward our employees for their hard work and attempt to promote from within whenever possible. When promoting an employee, we have found that it is important to aid new managers so they are able to secure the skills necessary to become effective leaders in their teams.
These are a few practices we have found important to keep in mind when attempting to develop managers into effective leaders:
- Listen. Effective leaders have the ability to effectively communicate with their team. However, listening is just as important as speaking. In most modern workplaces there is a lot of “noise” that can make it difficult for team members to communicate. Steps such as making an effort to have more face-to-face conversations and scheduling meetings without the common workplace distractions such as phone calls and e-mail will communicate to team members that you care about what they have to say.
- Make decisions with confidence. Let new managers know that you see value in being them being decisive. It is important to encourage managers to use the skills that have acquired to evaluate the situation and allow them to use their own judgment to make the best decision possible. Sometimes the outcome is not ideal, in those cases, it is important to encourage managers to reflect and learn from those past experiences and continue to allow them to be decisive which furthers their development.
- See the Big Picture. While paying attention to detail on the day to day tasks is certainly important, great leaders can make a correlation between these tasks and the “big picture.” The ability to relate these tasks to business development and growth is a characteristic that strong leaders should possess. Strong leaders routinely ask their own supervisors for updates on strategic changes and can effectively communicate and implement these updates with members of their team.
- Encourage Feedback. Employees new to a managerial role should work on their ability to provide constructive feedback to team members. Employees want consistent feedback on their job performance, and constructive feedback helps them perform better which benefits the team and the organization as a whole. Conversely, managers who want to be great leaders should be open to receiving feedback from their team. A strong leader is able to handle constructive feedback by keeping in mind that it is in the best interest of improving the workplace and the team.
When taking on the task of developing managers into leaders it is important to keep in mind that not everyone has innate leadership qualities. With the right guidance and training, managers can accrue the skills needed to be a leader. Whether that be a yard manager trainee, an employee that shows promise at the sawmill or concentration yard, or a new lumber trader, we are committed to developing our future managers and leaders at American Lumber.
What practices have you found effective when developing future leaders?