Maui program helps supervisors do better
Managing isn’t magic. But for a newly promoted manager, it can feel like a mystery. Maui Community College is ready to change that through its Leadership Effectiveness and Development Program run by Lois Greenwood, Dawn Freels and Richard McAndrew.
LEAD is part of the college’s Vital and Innovative Training and Economic Development Center and supported with a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Rural Development Program.
LEAD was developed after studies in Maui and statewide showed that training for first-time managers is one of the most significant needs of local employers. The studies mirror national statistics. According to Greenwood, more than three out of four professionals holding managerial positions are still acting as an individual contributor or are stuck between the roles of individual worker and manager. It takes at least three years for professionals to completely transition into the manager role, she says. But once they do, they contribute 3.5 times more to the organization than a manager still functioning as an individual contributor.
About 15 Maui businesses and organizations—ranging from hotels and restaurants to service rentals and sugar companies—have used LEAD as of spring 2007. First-time managers or managers who have held their position for less than three years were selected to participate. Training begins with a 360-degree assessment by a manager’s co-workers, employees and supervisors administered online to map out strengths and weaknesses in managing skills. "That gets their attention," says Greenwood. "The assessment really motivates them to go into the classroom training looking for answers." Instructors then combine classroom training and individual coaching developed specifically for each participant based on his or her assessment. Coaching is done personally, in groups and over the phone.
A classic issue for a manager is how to give effective performance feedback that motivates, not deflates. Most first-time supervisors wrestle with this dilemma, and the tendency is to use punitive words and tone of voice—blaming, scolding, etc.—to not say anything at all for fear of upsetting the employee. The LEAD program teaches a six-step performance feedback method that begins with managing one’s emotions and giving feedback that is objective, fair and respectful.
The goal is for manager trainees to apply their new skills in an effective, sustainable way. For six months after the initial training, managers continue to receive coaching sessions to discuss how they’ve applied their newly learned skills and to address problems they may have encountered. They go through another 360-degree online assessment at the end of the program to find out how their new management skills have affected their co-workers and employees.
"I learned more about myself and my co-workers and actually made sense of why people act a certain way," reflects James Cacal, assistant manager of the Old Lahaina Luau.
The entire program takes approximately seven months. It requires the full support of the manager’s organization as well as the participation of the manager’s supervisor as a mentor and coach. After finishing the program, managers and their supervisors both expressed the wish that supervisors could have participated even more in the coaching and training.
LEAD’s success has spawned inquiries from businesses and organizations on Maui and other islands, so Greenwood is looking at expanding the program. First-time and even long-time established managers across the state may soon have the opportunity to revamp their managerial style and improve their workplace environment and productivity.
"This class gave me a confidence boost on my own leadership skills," says John Gannon, Owner/CEO Empire Disposal. "It taught me not to resort to the old school way."