What is the role of a Line Manager

Designing and running effective graduate schemes is hard to do. We know this because so many of them do not work well with high drop our rates and poor progression into critical roles. This is particularly true for schemes which are targeted at attracting and developing leaders.

Our experience shows that the most important aspect of developing a graduate is to have an engaged and capable line manager.

To run a great grad scheme you have to work with more than one management level.

One of the consistent challenges is that the scheme managers find it hard to get sufficient buy in from all the key management stakeholders. Somehow the message of what needs to happen and why does not reach the right people and there starts to be a trickle, then a flood of questions and issues coming in from the graduates and their managers.

Is there a simple way to solve this problem?

We believe there is. It involves understanding that there is more than one role of line manager that needs to be engaged. There is the Line mentor who drives the medium term development of the grad and the Direct line manager who drives performance and professional skills learning day by day.

What are the roles a good line manager needs to perform to make a difference?

  • Designs the experiences that are needed to develop as a performer and a leader
    • Understands the scheme objectives
    • Relates it to their business area
    • Links it to what it takes for professional development
  • Selection
    • Match to skills and attitudes
    • Cultural and Team fit
    • Potential to develop
  • Helps to smooth the organisational waters for creating roles
    • Identifies opportunities
    • Manages headcount issues
    • Balances the needs of now with the future
  • Manages performance
    • Sets tasks and manages day to day
    • Coaches day to day performance
    • Regular feedback
    • Performance reviews
  • Manages potential
    • Makes sure there is enough stretch
    • Looks at the leadership behaviour
    • Mentors

    What do the different types of line manager do different?

  • Direct line manager
    • Manages day to day tasks and performance
    • Offers direction, coaching and feedback
    • May change regularly
  • Line mentor
    • Manages the design of the experience
    • Smooths the way organisationally
    • Manages potential
    • Is a stable and consistent presence

    What does this mean for running a scheme?

    Both types of manager need to be briefed fully with their roles and responsibility.
    Understand that the different managers have different motivations for getting involved.
    The training needs for both are different and should be delivered separately.
    A process needs to be in place to track and brief the direct line managers with the objectives of the scheme, expectations and support systems as they change.

    Though it may sound that this is putting in another layer of complexity, our experience is that on leadership schemes, where the line manager is essential in designing and creating the right experience, understanding that there is a direct line manager and a line manager mentor is essential to delivering a return on the investment in the hiring and development of the grad.