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In many franchise locations new managers are promoted from the ranks; this is a great way to reward good performance and send a message to all employees that there are real advancement opportunities. Turning over management of a six figure (or greater) business to a new manager however should not be treated lightly. Pro-active development of the new manager requires systematic steps to ensure his or her success – and that of the franchised location. Whether the franchisor develops a management training program or this is left up to franchisees, there are core skills that most first time managers need to develop that are not simply absorbed by having worked in jobs leading up to the new position.
Hopefully a manager has been selected with good interpersonal communication skills. Even with this as a criterion it’s common that a first-time manager would need further development in this area to go from good to great. Because these skills are core to their role in communicating with employees and customers, investing time and potentially money in obtaining training in this area for unit managers is worthwhile. At a minimum, key communication skills that should be taught include active listening, communicating in a non-judgmental manner to employees and question asking. Each of these skills are highly nuanced and take time to impart. They are essential since they are used in interviewing, new employee orientation and training, providing employees performance feedback, conducting evaluations and critically, in responding to unhappy customers.
This leads to a second essential skill area for first time unit managers: the ability to inspire employees to deliver fantastic service. Managing for customer loyalty starts with being a role model in all facets of customer service. In addition to good communication skills, outstanding customer service should be top on the list of selection criteria for the unit management position. Teaching the new manager to connect the dots for employees between their job performance and the customer’s perception, ensures that all employees meet the standards you set for service delivery.
Most managers promoted from the ranks have had no training in business planning or financial management. Understanding a P&L, the key financial levers of the business such as labor costs, or terms like “variable expense” may be new territory for them. It’s essential that these topics be taught and that no assumptions are made that such business savvy is already there. Other topics important to cover are goal setting, analyzing financial results and setting actionable plans.
Last, getting results through others is inevitably a big leap for first time managers. In all likelihood, if he or she has been promoted for being a star employee, stepping out of that role and becoming coach and trainer to others as well as delegating, requires not just new skills but a new mindset. The manager is no longer the violin player in the orchestra, but is now the conductor – a major paradigm shift for the newbie which may take repeated coaching reminders from the franchisee or general manager.
Incremental learning is always better than the fire hose approach that deluges the new manager with too much content at once, the moment they start the position. In the best of all worlds, franchisees have a program that enables talented team members to work their way through a formal training program that begins grooming management potential well before an opening needs to be filled.