HR Advisors Conference Blog

Further thoughts from the conference or about the challenges of being in an HR Advisory role.

Five ways to develop your managers skills

One of the key parts of working in HR is to advise and support people managers. It’s a difficult job and just like every sportsperson has a coach, every good people manager should have someone they trust to help them become a better manager. The ironic thing is that often in HR advisory roles, you don’t have any experience managing people yourself! However like a sports coach might never have been brilliant at playing, they are good at coaching.

So as an HR Advisor, how can you help develop your managers even if you don’t have any people management experience yourself?

Here are 5 ideas:

  1. Whenever a manager asks you a question, don’t give a solution straight away. Use open ended questions to really find out what the issue is and then ask them what they think the right approach would be. You can then act as a sounding board for that idea, rather than having to come up with the solution yourself.
  2. Run some online sessions for managers on dealing with different HR processes or topics but instead of you designing the content – ask manager what questions they have about the process (e.g. sick leave), then run a session to answer those questions. If you use webinar technology, then managers could also share their ideas on how they’ve dealt with an issue.
  3. If a manager has an issue you know another manager has had to deal with – buddy them up. Suggest that they go and have a coffee. Manager 1 may have no idea which managers have also learned to deal with their situation, whereas you may have the knowledge to put them in touch with Manager 2.
  4. Run a development survey for managers. This is where their team rate their skills and give suggestions on what they could do differently. BUT BEWARE: if managers aren’t open to getting feedback they may not want to hear this. At Google they run these surveys every 6 months and publish all the results to all managers – so managers can see who’s improving. There is no punishment if you rate low – but you can then work on improving. This approach will only work if you have an open and honest culture.
  5. Start an HR library with some key management books for managers to borrow and read. Obviously at Elephant we’d recommend starting with Management Bites by our own Angela Atkins! But there are lots of other great reads out there that managers often don’t have time to research and buy in their own time. You could even have a book of the month review in your company newsletter.

So this week think about how you could develop your managers skills and help them become better at what they do. You might find that your advice then moves away from always being reactionary, to being more proactive and working as a trusted advisor!

Let us know if you have success – we’d love to hear your stories.


The HR Advisors Conference is happening again in 2017 in Wellington on 30 – 31 Jan, Auckland on 27 – 28 Feb and Melbourne, Australia on 14 – 15 March. For more information click here.


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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in HR leadership, Operational HR work and tagged , , .

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