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How to hire (and train) a good manager in the hourly workforce

How to hire (and train) a good manager in the hourly workforce

Promoting from within is a great way to build loyalty, develop your employees, and boost morale at your workplace. But in the hourly workforce, all too often, workers are promoted into people management positions without the right training—a misstep that can cause a lot of problems. 

Gallup found that 70% of the variance in employee engagement can be defined solely by the manager. That means the old expression workers leave managers, not companies isn’t just lip service. It’s fact. 

While hourly workers promoted into shift leaders often have a ton of operational experience, without training on how to be strong people leaders, they can inadvertently increase turnover, negatively impact their employees’ experience, and cause themselves way more stress. 

When hiring people manager positions or looking for employees to promote, there’s a lot you can do to prevent these issues from the start. Let’s dive into the characteristics you should look for in your next manager and what you can do to train workers to succeed in their new position. 

4 qualities to look for in a good manager

First, let's begin with the qualities that make a good manager. It's important to remember that some of these skills can be taught or refined over time. If you have an employee that feels like a good fit, get them the training they need to exhibit these essential qualities.

Great communication skills

Communication skills can make or break a worker’s experience with their manager—and the company as a result. Managers need to be able to communicate not only what they need from their team but also be able to give praise and constructive criticism. Leaders who struggle with direct conversations can create a toxic workplace for their teams. 

As a manager of the hourly workforce, there are many moments where communication can make a drastic difference. From finding a last-minute replacement for a shift to communicating policy changes, tone matters.

Ability to speak more than one language

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2030, there will be a projected 35.9 million Hispanic workers in the labor force. These employees are heavily represented in deskless industries like agriculture, cleaning/maintenance, construction, food service, and transportation/material moving. While many of these employees will speak English, some may only speak Spanish, or they may be bilingual. States like New Mexico, California, Texas, Arizona, Florida, and Nevada have labor forces where Hispanic workers comprise over 25% of the population.

If your managers can speak more than one language, they can better support your team and customers to ensure they get the experience they deserve. Your managers don't need to be advanced speakers, either. Understanding a few common phrases can go a long way to make employees and customers feel appreciated.

Being available and flexible to accommodate worker schedules

You know how quickly things can change if you've worked an hourly gig before. Many companies run a tight ship when it comes to schedules, but life happens, and your team can't always accommodate what the company needs.

Shift leaders must excel at scheduling to ensure employees have the support they need. When those moments arise, and employees can't make a shift, managers must step up and figure out the path forward. Sometimes this involves communicating with other workers and getting a shift covered, and sometimes managers might have to jump in and fill a shift themselves.

Shift leaders should focus on how they show up for workers. Are your managers accommodating, or do they chastise workers when they can't make a shift? Can an employee text or call their shift lead and depend on them to answer? How a team lead handles these situations will greatly affect how their workers respond in the future. 

Passionate about worker development

Last but not least, managers should be passionate about developing their workers. In the hourly workforce, it's common for employees to rise up in the ranks and become leaders in the organization. We've discussed how internal hires can be a great recruitment strategy

As shift leaders step into the next phase of their career journey, are they stuck in operations mode, or are they helping develop their team members? Are they having one-on-ones with teammates, training them, or recognizing their good work? Team leads who invest in their employees’ development are improving turnover and ultimately aiding the company’s bottom line. This level of dedication is hard to find, so if you see it in a worker, take note. 

3 manager qualities that get in the way of success

Since so many managers are promoted and might not be fully prepared for the role, they might exhibit characteristics that are damaging to their teams. Be on the lookout for these things and know when you can work with your managers to improve and when they're just not a good fit for the role. 

Lack of experience in a management role

If you've been in the hourly industry, you may have seen a manager who doesn't have the right qualifications. Managers are often picked because they display all the right qualities as an employee, but that doesn't always translate into good leadership. For example, selling and teaching others how to sell are two different skills.

So, what can companies do when they realize they have an unqualified manager? Get them training that’s easy to digest and understand.

Platforms like Typsy, GoSkills, and Udemy can be excellent resources for shift leaders. You can also use platforms like 360Learning and Absorb LMS to host internal training courses. Your parent company might also provide manager training if you’re a franchise member.

If you're on your own, creating a few videos that you host on YouTube or offering quarterly in-person training courses that are tailored to what your managers need help with can make a big difference.

Unable to discipline workers

Discipline is an essential skill for managers. When employees are allowed to be toxic and not checked by leadership, it can lead to turnover and workplace dissatisfaction. On the other hand, discipline is a nuanced process. There are laws in place to protect workers in many states, and making the wrong move could lead to lawsuits.

Managers have to walk a fine line to make sure they’re standing up for workers without isolating the person who is in the wrong. On top of that, managers also need to ensure issues don't fester and become deeper problems for the company.

After an employee is disciplined, there may still be some lingering behavioral problems. If that’s the case, managers need to feel comfortable taking the final step of termination. Our guide to parting ways with an employee should help managers create a process that works for the company.

Neglects worker development

If your management team isn’t willing to mentor their team, or they aren’t doing it enough, your organization will be in trouble as would-be leaders inevitably leave the company.

Luckily, there are some strategies companies can use to help managers improve their worker development habits. For example, you could schedule a day for team training and help your team leads to develop an agenda for their teams. You should encourage managers to host regular one-on-ones with their workers to talk about what’s going well and where they need help, giving your leaders an opportunity to coach and set goals with their team members. 

Why it’s important to train your managers

Leaders don't learn these strategies automatically when they receive a new title. It's something that needs to be developed.

More than likely, you’re giving a leadership position to someone who doesn’t have formal training or someone who doesn’t have experience leading people. Training equips your managers with the tools to show up for your organization and your staff members.

How do you effectively train your managers?

Manager training can feel daunting at first, but it doesn’t have to be as intense as you think. Here are some simple steps you can take to train your leaders effectively:

  • Understand where they lack. Your managers may already be great at some things, so there's no reason to train them again. Instead, work with them one-on-one to see what would be the best use of your training time.
  • Keep it simple. Management training can be overwhelming, especially on top of other job duties. Bite-sized training works best. Focus on which training opportunities would make the most impact. For example, if your leaders need help hiring the right employees, you could do a small training on screening resumes.
  • Make sure it makes sense. Sitting through training that doesn't apply to everyday life can be a waste of time. So when picking or creating a training session, give many relevant examples to ensure the information sticks. For instance, you could use a recent example of an incident that happened in your restaurant to train new leaders.
  • Create an active training opportunity. It might be challenging to see how a training topic can apply in your own store. By visiting another site and auditing their store, your managers could better retain the information and get inspired to apply their learnings to their own location. 

Good managers can make or break the work experience for hourly workers

Managers have a profound impact on the hourly workforce. Having a good manager can make working fun and engaging while working under a bad boss can make you want to call in sick or quit your job. Being a good manager isn't complicated, but it’s your job as the HR leader to ensure your new managers are set up for success. 

When creating a job description for your next leadership role, consider what makes the most sense for your organization. Skills like communication, flexibility, and passion for worker development go a long way.

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