Dee McManus is an experienced workforce development professional, boasting more than 25 years’ experience in the field
She’s provided strategic advice to SMEs across a wide range of sectors – working with directors and senior managers to improve people and processes.
In this month’s column, Dee tackles how best to manage people you used to work with, whether corporate values are worth it and how to mitigate attrition when dealing with temporary staff.
Presiding over your peers
Q: We’ve recently promoted a number of staff into supervisor roles. They’re now managing people that they used to work alongside and that’s causing some friction in terms of their working relationships. What can we do to address this?
It’s not easy, but it’s a situation that we see a lot. At the end of the day, the relationship has to change when you become a manager or supervisor, and that needs to be carefully handled by senior managers, as well as the supervisors.
Too often, people are promoted because they are good at their job, but without being given any training in management or leadership skills. Even a modest bit of leadership training can really help new managers to tackle these sensitive situations, as well as increasing their confidence and improving team performance.
Aims or aspirations?
Q: Are cultural values worth it, or are they just HR fluff that goes out the window when they come up against a need to generate results for a business?
As companies grow, the importance of establishing a set of core values increases. The core values are the guiding principles that dictate behaviour and action. It’s important that you involve your workforce in developing the values to get maximum buy-in. If values are just imposed without consultation, they are unlikely to become embedded.
They can be immensely valuable in giving your employees a framework to challenge behaviour that doesn’t fit with your values. If your values have been framed effectively, they can help you to determine if you’re on the right path and fulfilling your business strategic aims. They should support the achievement of your business goals, not act as a barrier or a brake.
Tackling temporary turnover
Q: We’re a manufacturing company and frequently have to recruit temporary staff to fulfil our short-term needs. We’re currently using a recruitment agency, but the staff we get often aren’t fit for purpose or don’t stay long and we have to start the whole process over again. What can we do to prevent such high turnover?
It may be an idea to train some of your managers or supervisors in interviewing skills and get them involved in the interviews. We’ve frequently found that when staff who understand the work themselves are involved, they’re more able to select candidates who have the right attributes.
They can clearly explain the conditions and type of work that’s involved, so that there’s no surprises when new staff hit the ‘shop floor’. This can lead to much lower attrition rates and save you time and money.
Q: Some of our people have excellent technical knowledge, but find it difficult to relate to our customers, and we feel that this is hindering sales performance – what can we do?
Sales and customer service skills don’t come naturally to everyone and it’s important that you set your own high standards so that your customers get the best possible service.
Technical expertise is an asset that you can enhance with the right kind of training that helps them translate this into developing strong relationships based around the needs of your customers.
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