Just like rookie baseball players are gearing up for spring training, the new players on organizational teams, in particular, new front-line leaders, are also entering the big leagues. Perhaps, the support felt by both squads of recruits is quite meager.
Arguably, front line leaders have the hardest jobs in the management hierarchy. With pressure from above and below, they are often pressed into service in dual management and individual contributor roles, and they generally lack any administrative support and the ability to call a time-out.
New “Hooverizing” tasks to feed the big data belchfire wind up in their laps, and they have the least developed management skill sets.
Over on the ball field the hundred or so rookie players join their new teams, and get real serious about earning a lasting spot on the roster. So, these guys are getting the benefit of a pretty sophisticated orientation, followed by extensive daily work with about 10 coaches, and they really haven’t even made the team roster yet! The baseball hopefuls take admirable steps in hopes of succeeding on the field – and they deserve support to make that happen.
Just like baseball coaches, human resources leaders should use three plays to successfully develop new leaders – the rookies of the organization’s top management:
- Emphasis on the “early” - Starting with a personalized development plan, we should be working early and often with emerging and newly designated leaders to ensure role clarity, and identify and treat skill strengths and weaknesses. In many cases, their reporting senior lacks the ability or interest in doing this, in which case utilizing a professional coach is in order.
- Develop the whole person - Face it, first line management jobs can put considerable strain on people, with a lot of added demands. We must find a way to build awareness, provide coping skills and accommodate what often proves to be a hard climbing phase in a person’s life.
- Put some fun in it - Reflecting on some of the most successful leader development initiatives I’ve been around, nearly all of them had some serious fun embedded.