What if your managers are your biggest barriers to growth?

Posted on: 28 , April 2017

In his final blog of the series, Richard Harrison of Geminus Training explores what can be done when a major barrier to business growth stems from within.

We’re going to present our final blog in this series on a touchy subject. It’s commonplace that when the growth is driven by the workforce, the major barrier to growth is an internal source – and one which theoretically shouldn’t exist, but one which almost every person who has ever been employed will probably relate to.Within our blogs, we’ve talked about the importance of involving the entire workforce in growth through organisational innovation. Rather than providing support from the top-down where there’s little time for change and development, we build the capability from the bottom up where there are more people, more impact and more effect at the root operational level.

When we run our Innovation Workforce course, we suggest that line managers and supervisors don’t attend. There’s a very good reason for this – when we ask the delegates what the major barrier to innovation is, the answer is usually management related, and more often than not, it’s one (or more) specifically named person. In most cases, it’s a manager or supervisor who either fears change, or is threatened by someone who they deem ‘inferior’ to them presenting one or more better ideas than they could.

Historically, this is an area that we haven’t delved into as a training provider. We’ve deliberately designed our courses to take a bottom up approach focusing on the workforce, so our approved associate trainers can use their own skills and tools to focus on the management team, line managers and supervisors. However, we’ve now realised that there’s a much better way around this.

The reason for the behaviour of these ‘barriers’ tends to fall into one of two main categories:

1. The pressure of the day to day job means that they don’t want to commit time to what they see as a meaningless task (or one which does not contribute directly to their outputs) – this is often a result of a fear of or resistance to change.

2 . They suffer from a sense of insecurity and don’t want their staff members to generate better ideas than them, or have responsibility for doing something which has more impact than they have (after all, THEY’RE the team leader!)

In both cases, the answer to the problem is simple:

Work with these people to set their expectations, and help them to understand how working as a team will improve their performance and productivity, hence making them and the whole team improve.

To complement our family of Workforce Development courses we present a short, complementary session for Line Managers and Supervisors which is designed to help them understand:

- why their staff are doing this course

- what they’ll get from it

- how this contributes to their team’s objectives

- how the line manager / supervisor and support and get involved too

If, after competing this short session, they still don’t want to get the best from their workforce and capitalise on their collective knowledge, experience and creativity, then they’re probably beyond our help. That said, we do have a fantastic network or highly qualified trainers and coaches who have the skill set to get the best out of them! It’s great what happens when you work as a team – especially if it’s well led or supervised.

This really was one of the missing pieces of a much bigger jigsaw. Engaging your managers, leaders and supervisors will bridge gaps and traverse barriers to growth in their organisations by preparing these people for the new skill set their teams are about to develop.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series of blogs helping you understand how to achieve unparalleled growth within your business. If you’d like to know more about how Geminus Training can help your business prosper, please feel free to contact me at richard@geminustraining.com.

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