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Your frontline managers’ capability & effectiveness matters now more than ever. Here’s what you need.

It’s now more important than ever to ensure your organization has strong people manager capability and effectiveness.

With 2020 and 2021 presenting a host of unprecedented challenges changing the dynamics in the workplace, it’s more important than ever to ensure your organization has strong people manager capability and effectiveness. 

Your people managers are on the frontlines of hiring, developing and aligning their teams, yet are being asked to navigate very complex issues never before experienced, such as the public health crisis from the COVID-19 pandemic, complex diversity and inclusion issues and keeping a remote workforce engaged and motivated. These skills often don’t come naturally, and it’s critical to equip your people managers with the tools and expertise they need to successfully thrive in the new normal workplace.

“When I ask most HR leaders to rate their people manager capabilities and effectiveness,” said Kurt Landon, CEO and Founder for Enspira, an innovative HR and talent consulting firm, “most rate it as poor, yet spend time and money on other aspects of HR, such as performance management, hoping to fix the problem. By focusing on strengthening your people manager capability for frontline and first-time managers, all other aspects of the HR and talent spectrum will be fully optimized.”

An innovative way to help build capabilities and effectiveness for your people managers is investing in hiring a coach for your frontline and first-time people managers. It’s important to note that coaching varies from executive coaching. The latter focuses on helping executives, including CEOs and CFOs, with sustaining momentum and competitiveness within the global marketplace. Coaching, meanwhile, is geared towards helping managers sharpen their leadership skills and communication. Here are three reasons why a coach is effective and the benefits it can bring to your people managers and your organization.

1. Unlocking employee potential

A professional coach works with individuals and people managers to help them gain self-awareness, clarify goals and unlock their potential. They act as a sounding board to help the individual solve their own problems. According to Robyn Powell, Vice President and Partner for Enspira, “Coaching is about partnering with people in a thought-provoking and creative way that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” The key difference between coaching and teaching is that coaches ask questions, challenge assumptions, help achieve clarity and provide resources. They help individuals gain self-awareness and move towards solutions.

People manager coaching helps ensure an individual masters the most effective practices of motivating and inspiring their workforce. According to Kurt Landon, “The single most important investment employers should make to achieve a high-performing organization is to invest in developing great people managers. Enspira’s People Manager Coaching offering has taken a page from executive coaching; however, we’ve designed it specifically for frontline and first-time managers, for a fraction of the cost. Our professional coaches focus on helping people managers learn how to engage in the daily tasks of managing people and operate effectively in this new reality.”

Without qualified people managers, motivation and engagement amongst employees decline while retention rates increase. Hence, it’s imperative to focus developmental efforts towards your frontline managers capable of unleashing your employees’ full potential. This means that your frontline managers are prepared to listen, ask questions, provide valuable feedback, praise strengths, correct weaknesses, encourage independence and ultimately help employees be productive and their best themselves at work.

2. Navigating Remote Work

In the midst of the drastic shift to remote working, the connection between managers and employees becomes partially severed. By knowing how to maintain employee relationships, your frontline managers are essential to mediating this issue.

Provide leadership workshops and virtual meetings to refine your managers’ leadership skills and technical knowledge. Enabling your managers to navigate the changing ways of working will enhance their confidence and ability to preserve traditional workplace dynamics in an unconventional virtual setting.

Enspira offers in-person and virtual people manager coaching with a comprehensive range of practical tools and resources tailored to first-time people managers, new-in-role people managers, and frontline managers. Among these resources are helpful methods for employees to adapt to a remote workplace. Robyn Powell, who oversees Enspira’s People Manager Coaching Offering, stated, “New managers are receptive to learning, where feedback and self-reflection are critical to success and areas of growth can be addressed such as how to give constructive feedback or effectively manage remote employees.”

3. Developing and retaining talent

Your frontline managers are crucial for developing and retaining your top talent. They’re the direct link to your employees and should practice effective people manager skills. Enspira’s People Manager Coaching Offering helps to provide people managers with the everyday skill and tools they need to be effective. “The offering enables companies to attract, develop and retain their top talent while attaining the best performance from their managers,” said Powell.

Among these skills, honesty, open communication, and purposeful conversations are uniquely important. Using these skills can help ensure employees are valued, and encourages feelings of long-term commitment to the organization. Transparency is critical for establishing value and developing a shared sense of tackling present and future challenges as a team. Help your managers be transparent with your employees by informing them about upcoming changes and discussing plans for adapting and moving forward. Openly discussing change helps fortify the relationship between managers and employees, and in turn, improves retention rates. Ensuring that your frontline managers candidly express change while also providing one-on-one meetings and additional windows for employees to share concerns will secure pivotal rapports and help retain top talent.

Learn more about Enspira’s People Manager Coaching Offering at

Kurt is an executive and entrepreneur with ~30 years of experience in senior business and HR leadership roles spanning various industries and geographies. His prior experience includes roles with leading organizations like Accenture, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Expedia, and Biogen. Most recently, he led the Human Resources function at Pinterest as SVP, People. Kurt has studied, lived, and worked in four regions, eight countries, and 16 cities, and speaks five languages. He also founded and operated three successful companies. Kurt is a frequent guest lecturer at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University on the topic of “HR Considerations for Growth Businesses," and at Northeastern University in Boston and the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium on the topic of "Business Decision-Making in the Context of Culture." He holds an undergraduate degree in Italian Language & International Economics from Washington University in St. Louis, and an advanced degree in Global HR Leadership from Rutgers University. Kurt lives in Dallas, Texas, with his husband Andrew and dog Francesca.

Robyn has more than 24 years of extensive experience leading teams and coaching people managers. Prior to Enspira, she held a variety of senior leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson, Merck KGaA, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, and Beckman Coulter, where she led teams across a range of customer-facing disciplines including global marketing, customer service, technical support, and field service. In her role at Johnson & Johnson, she spent nine years in France overseeing high-performing teams in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Robyn’s extensive leadership experience spans individual contributors, people leaders, and teams as large as 50 to a site of 200 employees. Robyn holds a coaching certificate from the University of California, Davis, and a coaching certification from the International Coaching Federation (ICF). She is fluent in French, holds a BA in Communications from the University of California, San Diego, and an MBA with specialization in International Business from Pepperdine University.

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