It is not unusual for start-up businesses to grow faster than their resources can match. A common concern for technical start-ups is how they can develop their staff so that employees can grow with the business.
These ambitious businesses are often full of people who wear a number of hats and can find themselves in management roles without any formal management experience. It is therefore important for companies (even small ones) to develop sustainable leadership practices that support first time line managers who have been promoted within.
It is vital to nurture your internal talent pipeline for a couple of reasons. Firstly, building a strong team internally helps to advance your culture and strengthen the business values, with senior employees embedded in the business and committed to its mission. Secondly, growing internal talent helps to retain employees and promotes positive engagement levels as team members can see a career path and future for themselves within the business.
Strengthening your team from within
How, then, can businesses strengthen their team from within, and help individual team members to grow and evolve with the business, and see a future for themselves within it? Learning how to identify gaps in knowledge or expertise, identify genuine training needs, and then deliver the relevant training in a way that is accessible, helpful, and effectively addresses the training needs is key to this.
Following on from this, is understanding how to assess people’s learning, how to help reinforce the training given, particularly in areas where the learner finds more difficult, and how to measure the subsequent success.
Train the Trainer Course
We know how important these training skills are in building a strong, confident, knowledgeable management teams, and since we ourselves at Purpose HR deliver training in various areas on various levels to businesses, we decided to undertake ‘Train the Trainer’ courses.
These courses teach people how to do exactly the above. In learning how to be better trainers, we can better deliver training to our valued clients. This included filling any particular gaps in knowledge and experience, and boosting people’s confidence, to help individuals develop within the business as it expands and evolves too.
Despite being incredibly beneficial for both employees and businesses, developing internal talent is not without significant challenges. There are stumbling blocks which businesses can trip over in this area. Here are a couple of these trip hazards and our recommendations for avoiding these to ensure your internal talent pipeline is robust.
Understanding what you need and expect from your senior team is crucial.
The Technical Lead vs. the People Manager
Understanding what you need and expect from your senior team is important for a business. Do they need to manage other staff members or are they developing into a technical lead role for a specific area? Perhaps it might even be both. Knowing this is crucial to helping you select and develop the right person for the role. If you are seeking someone who can manage people, then it’s worth understanding if this is the direction your selected employee wants to take their career. Some employees may like to advance within the business but not necessarily manage a team.
Be sure to discuss personal aspirations with employees. Through these conversations, you will learn that no two people share the same vision for their career. Some may want to become subject matter experts, while others really want to manage a team.
Purpose HR understands the importance of managers feeling confident in their abilities to manage a team. We also recognise how beneficial it is to be able to carry out the training and development of managers in-house, which is why we offer support for businesses in doing exactly that.
One business that we have helped in this way is CAS – an employee-owned technology company specialising in case management systems regulated casework. After assessing CAS’s needs through consultations with their senior team and a full audit of existing HR infrastructure, we created a bespoke management training programme for them. We delivered it through a series of interactive workshops, and the training has enabled line managers to effectively develop and support their teams.
The Accidental Manager
With many startups experiencing periods of rapid growth and a requirement to scale up their team very quickly, it can often happen that longer serving employees become managers or area leads by default.
In most cases this will be fine in the short term, however issues tend to arise when the lack of training for the new role means mistakes are made. For people managers this can lead to errors in compliance as well as poor people management leading to lower productivity and inefficiencies in teams.
In addition, this can cause issues with company engagement levels as well as having a negative impact on the manager, therefore creating ‘flight risks’ (potential leavers) at all levels within your business.
How to Ensure a Strong Internal Talent Pipeline
New managers need more than technical know-how to be effective
In developing a management team, it is important to recognise that most people will need some help and training to be able to fulfil the roles required of them – especially if they are being promoted from within an organisation.
New managers need more than technical know-how to be effective in their roles. They must develop a wide range of soft skills, ranging from effective communication to time management. A strong leadership culture can help them meet these challenges by offering guidance, training, and support. Even in a startup environment, it’s crucial that company leaders pause to make this investment in their new managers.
Training is the best place to start setting expectations for your managers. Do you expect them to hold regular 1:1s with their employees? Do you expect them to give performance feedback? Do you expect them to train their people? Do you expect them to agree upon objectives with their team? Once you’ve set expectations, your management training requirements have already been defined.
Often, the biggest inhibitor to putting a training programme in place is the perception that it will take too much time. External training courses generally require a full day or more out of the business, which is often just not practical. A much better approach is a structured internal training programme – aligned to your individual business needs, culture and values, and delivered in bitesize sessions to work around other business priorities.
When looking at the development of an internal team it is critical to understand your requirements and the associated timescales. Understanding how your People Plan and business priorities link will ultimately enable you to develop the structure to grow your team without hitting any of the above trip hazards.
Becoming a more effective manager is a continual cycle, building education on experience and branching into new areas as roles expand. That’s why it’s critical for companies of all sizes to invest in a strong leadership culture. By fostering open communication and designing a set of management practices that aligns with your employees’ goals, you will create a successful team that is eager to learn.
Purpose HR have extensive experience in delivering manager training programmes to start-up and scale-up businesses in areas including performance management, recruitment, development of team members, manager processes, absence & grievance management, difficult conversations, and HR processes.
To find out in more detail about the importance of training your management team and the benefits your business can achieve from doing so, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!