Do Floor Managers and Supervisors Need Leadership Training?

One of the great cockups that Corporate America makes is assuming people who are great at their jobs will be great leaders of their departments. They promote great salespeople to become sales managers or they promote great machine operators to become floor managers.

This compounds two mistakes, one on top of the other. Not only have you lost your best salesperson or best machine operator, but you put them in a position they may not be suited for. Not everyone has what it takes to be a good leader or even a good manager. So now you have a bad manager, or at least a poorly-trained one, leading a department that just lost its best performer.

Your best managers and leaders may not be the best performers in your department, and maybe they shouldn’t be.

In the sales department, that person is probably going to be an average performer. They know how to make sales and they make their numbers, but they’re not a rockstar. They’re the people who make connections between and among clients, or they make introductions and referrals, or they’re constantly learning and reading, and they share that information with their colleagues.

The machine operator who knows how to keep the machine running and trains the new employees may not be your top performer, but they’re the ones with the experience and wisdom to be a resource to the rest of the department.

Those are the people who are better suited to lead your department. They’re solid contributors and they understand the basics, but they’re not the superstars within the department.

Leadership training is a good idea for floor managers and shift supervisors, although maybe not a ropes course.Think of it this way: Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, Venus Williams are all superstars, but they would make horrible coaches. Why? Because they will carry a level of expectation, knowledge, and drive that they’ll expect their players to have, which they won’t. But the people who were their coaches? They weren’t the superstars themselves, they just knew how to harness that level of excellence within their players.

You definitely can’t just give management positions to the people based on seniority. Time served doesn’t matter one bit. The person who hasn’t been promoted for a long, long time? There may be a reason for it. Dig into the reason they haven’t been bumped up the ranks before you just hand someone a promotion and push them into management. People need to have the right attitude and aptitude to have a shot at being a manager.

Give Them Leadership Training

Once you promote these people, you can’t expect their ideal skills will make them good leaders. They still need training and development. Even though there are people who have intuitive leadership skills, they have to be consistently honed.

I believe in providing leadership training to even the floor managers and shift supervisors. For one thing, those folks have a chance to move up even further in the operation, so why wait to provide them the managerial training I want them to have? I can get them started on my philosophy and system right away, and get them trained on it so by the time they reach those higher positions, they’re ready to start on Day One.

However, I would only send them to something I’ve experienced instead of something that was just sold to me, just to make sure we’re all speaking the same language.

So pick your training carefully and ensure that it tests the individuals’ attitude and aptitude. If it’s just a bullshit class for four days and they come away with a certificate that says they attended it, how do you apply it? What kinds of lessons did they actually learn?

I would rather send people to a management class at a local university than to send someone to a four-day bullshit class that just regurgitates every other leadership book in the local bookstore. I want leadership classes that teach empathy, how to delegate, and how to get people to buy into your vision (which is really the company’s vision).

That’s the kind of leadership training your management team needs, even the floor managers and shift supervisors.

I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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Author: David Marshall
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.