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Dear Workforce How Do We Train a Manager With a Big Gap in Her Soft Skills

We have a new manager who is knowledgeable and proficient at her job but lacks other skills. She airs her personal dirty laundry in the office. We have spoken with her privately about this, offered numerous suggestions and sent her to seminars. We would like her to succeed. However, we are running out of options--and our board and management are running out of patience. What are we doing wrong?
September 7, 2011
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Dear Coach Me:

The fact that she has become a manager is a red flag to examine the investment your company is making in management selection and training, and whether it's paying off.

Other than her technical skills, what criteria were used when giving her this promotion? What role has the company played in coaching her? Like many new managers, she may suffer from a lack of basic management training. Perhaps she was thrown in over her head without the support necessary to effectively make the transition to management. Many managers underperform or behave inappropriately simply because they lack training in this area.

She sounds quite thick-skinned insofar as coaching has had little influence on her behavior, though. This probably plays itself out in other aspects of her work. Good managers know how to read what is and what is not appropriate behavior. I also worry because good leaders have the capacity to benefit from feedback--and she clearly isn't hearing you.

Find out why she is so keen to tell all. This may be her way of standing out and being different. It is up to you to explain how this can kill her future career.

The workplace is not a therapist's office. As a leader, your role is to ensure that all employees feel comfortable in the work environment. This manager's unusual behavior contributes to an unhealthy psychological climate and sends a bad message to staff about acceptable behaviors by leadership. It could adversely affect morale, which will be costly, and may ultimately lead to turnover, which will also be costly. People already are talking and this will get worse unless you take immediate action.

SOURCE: Barbara Moses, author of What Next: The Complete Guide to Taking Control of Your Working Life, Toronto, April 11, 2005.

LEARN MORE:Huddling With the Coach.

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