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As a middle size company, where do we go in Canada for training solutions for our managers?

You are touching on a problem that’s common today in many organizations, particularly those that rely strongly on their employees' skills and experience. Too often, top performers are promoted to the ranks of management because of their performance and not because they have demonstrated skills as managers or leaders.

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This is especially common at technology and other knowledge-based companies where technical skills are confused with management skills.

However, poorly promoted managers can produce several deleterious effects, not the least of which is extreme demoralization of the employee base that is being managed. Top performers are often that way because they are drivers who get things done. They may make good project managers, but that does not necessarily mean they are good with people. Top salespeople can sometimes be poor managers because they cannot leave behind the kind of thinking that goes into selling.

First, identify the requirements managers need: interpersonal skills such as tact, professionalism, social skills, ability to relate to people and emotional intelligence. A top performer usually does not need these skills, but a manager does. Personality type also enters into this process. Some personality types are better suited to be managers and leaders.

As with all innovation processes, the first order of business is to determine objectives. Understand and define what you would like to see as a final result, and why. In product development terms, this is the equivalent of determining what problem or challenge the product answers and overcomes.

For example, what will the manager's job requirements be? There is a big difference between managing and leading. In some settings, all that is required is for someone to manage processes and timelines; in most other settings, though, it means being a team leader and mentor, which requires vision, persuasion and negotiation.

Second, employ innovation planning tools. One way to organize this process is to map out the steps you must take to achieve your final vision. For example, an elementary task would be to have managers understand their own personality type.

Once these requirements are established, it becomes a rather simple chore of sourcing support. Local BDC offices probably have consultants who can help with management coaching. Talk to other companies within your industry. Look for university or college courses or for private management training. You might also inquire at organizations of entrepreneurs or at your industry association. If you have investors, they may be a source of management training.

Content in this section is provided in partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada. BDC provides entrepreneurs with financing, venture capital and consulting services. To find out more go to BDC.ca.

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