“We use a mix of internally trained coaches and external coaches who work with managers to understand how they can lead their teams better. These managers are then responsible for coaching their direct reports. But none of this information is centralised at the moment. We’re completely unable to see whether common concerns keep cropping up. It’s all anecdotal.”
I’ve heard similar issues time and time again. Companies are starting to look for a more robust and consistent service across all leadership levels, which then scales to every employee. But they're also looking for agile decision making, rapid innovation, more autonomy for local level teams and less linear project management. So How you you reconcile standardisation with the new world of agile leadership?
Why Standardise Management Practices?
1. Create a common language
Creating a common language across an organisation increases stickiness. It becomes part of “the way things are done around here” which has a ripple effect and larger impact on business outcomes.
2. Avoid a manager training deficit
A couple of years down the line, when employees become new managers, they’ll have an understanding of how to lead their teams. At the very least, they will have experienced consistent management practices across the organisation from their own managers.
3. Become more agile as an organisation
Sometimes changing teams can feel like joining a brand new company and starting from scratch. This kills your organisation’s productivity, given how often companies are restructuring. Team changes and transitions are smoother when employees can count on some of the practices remaining the same, even if their manager is changing. It's also an effective way to speed up trust building. So embedding agile practises and making these the standard or consistent way to manage a team can actually help rather than hinder - especially if the team or business is going through change.
4. Collect data to develop best-practice
How can you spot important issues that keep coming up in one-to-ones between coaches and employees or managers and employees if this data isn’t collected anywhere?
Do you even have insight into how often these crucial conversations are happening? Can you confidently say that every employee is having a one-to-one with their manager at least once per month?
I’m frequently surprised by how many organisations don’t know. Without this invaluable data, how can you know which management practices lead to higher performance in your organisation?
5. Reduce costs
If you have data to show where managers are struggling you can use targeted coaching interventions to tackle the issue head on instead of splashing on generic leadership development programmes with a poor ROI. That’s in addition to the costs saved by becoming more efficient and agile as an organisation.
How to standardise management practices while staying agile
It seems that everyone wants to standardise leadership development and management practices in their organisation but aren’t sure how to do it without compromising bespoke, diverse approaches to management and creating time-consuming processes. Here are some ideas on how to get started.
Choose one coaching or management practice that you’d like to standardise first. Bonus points for making it one in accordance with your organisation’s people objectives. For example, if improving manager-employee trust is high on the agenda, you may want to tackle one-to-ones between managers and employees first.
Keep it simple
You’re not aiming to transform the organisation right away, but rather standardise a few basic steps in employees’ everyday. For example, a small simple step towards standardising management practices is asking for every manager to schedule 90 minutes per month of one-to-one time with their direct reports.
If you’re only introducing a small, simple change to start you should be able to communicate it to the business clearly, without it feeling like a big ask.
Find the right tools
The tools you choose will dictate whether you’re making a “small simple change” or an “impossible ask” and therefore, whether standardising this management practice turns out to be a success or a failure.
Use technology like Saberr to provide managers with coaching frameworks and conversations that they can easily embed into their everyday. Find a tool that is easy to use for employees, works with your existing processes and gives you the data you need to know whether the initiative is working and prove the impact its having.
By focusing on small simple changes with the help of the right tools, you’re on your way to standardising management practices in your organisation.