How can you develop great managers?

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Written by Alice Withers on 15 October 2014

Managers have a key role to play in talent management. There’s a common saying that people don’t leave their jobs, they leave their managers, and, in fact, recently HR Grapevine suggested that 70 per cent of people leave their job because of their line manager’s performance[1].

People generally get promoted to managerial level due to their skills and performance day-to-day, without consideration of whether they have the right skills to manage a team. An organisation with an effective talent management strategy will of course ensure that they receive the right training and support to be able to manage others effectively. However, more than a quarter of respondents in CIPD’s 2014 Learning and Development survey felt that the failure to prioritise management leadership capability affected all levels of leadership in their organisation, suggesting that this issue is fairly widespread.

Formal training programmes can be great at developing leadership skills but can take up a lot of resources. Coaching and mentoring on the job is often a more effective way of developing these skills. Senior managers coaching those who show potential, whether other managers or just team members, can help to develop an extensive talent pipeline within a business. Although this method is fairly commonly used in the UK, it is becoming less popular over recent years (CIPD, 2014). This could be due to a number of factors, but there is research to suggest it is due to a lack of the required skills among senior leaders (CIPD, 2014). This itself may be due to inadequate training, or simply a lack of time caused by excessive workloads.

One of the best ways to get an insight into whether the performance of your managers is affecting your talent pipeline, is through 360 degree reviews. They not only provide you with an insight into that manager’s performance, but also into the level of teamwork in the business. They are a really easy way to get a quick assessment of where any problem areas are within your business. More detail on key issues you need to consider when conducting 360 degree reviews can be found here.

Training needs assessments can also be useful to identify in which areas your managers and other staff need to develop. They can be used to identify how your staff learn best, any barriers they face when doing their work and can also give a picture of those who have the desire and motivation to move forward in the company. An extensive analysis can also identify whether training is best directed towards a team or a job role across all teams.

Investing in the leadership skills of your managers will not only aid their development but also that of all team members and is a highly effective way to get your talent management strategy on track.

About the author
Alice Withers is a researcher at People 1st. She can be contacted at

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