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What great HR managers do differently

Great managers are not born that way; they make an effort to create a difference by going the extra mile. We all have heard someone say this or perhaps have said it ourselves, “The best boss I ever had.” Familiar enough? What sets them apart from the other good-but-not-great-managers? It is their capacity to identify what you are good at and feed you opportunities (with challenges) to flourish in that area of work.


Also Read: Attn: Hiring managers. Are you missing a key hiring strategy?

Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman in their book, “What the world’s greatest managers do differently” interviewed 80,000 successful managers, and there was one underlying commonality in all their actions. 

What was most compelling about these findings on successful management is that each great manager was identified based on the performance results they produced in their organization. 

One major cost factor in the human resources department is skill training or personnel development training. It is common knowledge that when the team is lacking the needed skillset or dexterity to perform a job, a training session is arranged to bridge the gap. What is uncommon is the way great managers handle the same situation. While skills training is inevitable and is an ongoing process, smart managers also hire right, at every career level. For example, at the entry level, hiring apprentices who are already equipped with the needed skillset to perform the required task.

Workforce allocation is a formidable concern in the talent acquisition role of any industry. Budget cuts and changing compensation guidelines make it challenging for recruiting officers to find the right talent for the right role.

The job of a manager is to turn one person’s particular talent into performance. Managers will succeed only when they can identify and deploy the differences among people, challenging each employee to excel in his or her own way. This doesn’t mean a leader can’t be a manager or vice versa. But to excel at one or both, one must be aware of the very different skills each role requires.

When you give a close look at the roles in industrial/factory based roles such as automobile, manufacturing, agricultural, electronics, chemical or industrial science, we notice that the outlook toward hiring requires a transformation.

Touching base on the report from the 80,000 great managers is the common insight that everyone shared, and that is: “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough.” (p. 57)

The implications of this insight for training and performance development are profound. This insight encourages building on what people can already do well instead of trying to fix weaker skills and abilities.The traditional performance improvement process identifies specific, average or below performance areas. Suggestions for improvement, either verbal or in a formal appraisal process, focus on developing these weaknesses.

Poor training

You might also find this interesting: Are Skills Training Centres of Excellence Up to the Job?

What great managers do instead, is assess each individual’s talents and skills. They then provide training, coaching, and development opportunities that will help the person increase these skills. But the truly great ones start by finding the skilled workers so they do not require as much training. Does this mean that great managers never help people improve their inadequate skills, knowledge, or methods? No, but they shift their emphasis on obtaining the right people as the first step as against the development of people with weaker skills.  

The disruptive technologies of today have changed the way businesses approach their talent pool, operations and delivery. Whilst operating mechanisms may change to suit the growing digitalisation fever, the need for skilled, robust and trained personals can never be of dearth. A paradigm shift in knowing where to find the right talent for the right industry is an enviable trait of a great manager. 

Within mainstream Indian employment, the recruitment of apprentices for trade and managerial jobs are not as prevalent as the rest of the world. However, it is changing and changing fast. In the report shared by Babington Group, 96% of employers recommend employing an apprentice while 59% of employers say training apprentices is cost-effective than hiring skilled workers.

Employers on Apprenticeships

Following through on success management are The Four Vital Jobs for Great Managers

  1. Select people based on talent – Talent is interpreted as skill based on the nature of the hiring industry. If they have the right skill, they are fit for the job and most inadvertently, apprentices fit the bill at all times
  2. When setting expectations for employees, establish the right outcomes – Understand what you need from the employee and assess the same with the organization goals. When you can match the organizational need with the employees skillset, it is a winning combination
  3. When motivating an individual, focus on strengths – This is crucial to employee loyalty and career progression. Most often managers are generous in their criticism but seldom with appreciation. If you credit your employee’s skills, they will abound in it.
  4. To develop an individual, find the right job fit for the person – Employers pay attention to the skills and experience that a potential employee brings to the interview table. Fewer employers actively assess whether the candidate will fit well into the role and culture of the organization. Even fewer look at the total picture and assess the candidate’s job fit.

If you have managed to stay with us until now, you are keen on becoming a great manager yourself and we know that are rooting for you! The secret potion to becoming a great manager whilst procuring skilled workmanship at the cost of less cost is hiring apprentices

You might also be interested in: 8 Reasons why retail companies need to hire apprentices

We urge you to take a close look at your department’s strength and weaknesses and identify avenues through which you can append the productivity, turnover and process excellence in your line of work. 


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