Why we train our managers, and why you should too
While Bart Schofield (Director) recently completed a CMI Level 5 qualification in Management and Leadership, Mike Pritchard-Howarth (Associate Director) is in close pursuit, studying for the Level 3 qualification. In this blog, the pair discuss what it takes to finish the course, and how Newman Stewart has helped them along the way.
NS: Was it a lucky coincidence that you both chose the CMI course?
Bart: Although we both chose this course for different reasons, I think that we both recognised the business and leadership platform that this would provide us both with as we continue to develop our careers. I didn’t follow the linear academic root, I was far more interested in practical learning and kicking a ball against a wall! I’ve always been conscious of continuing my personal and professional development in my own time. This wasn’t just about becoming a better manager; I wanted to broaden my business understanding as well and add value to our clients by being a true business consultant. That was the ultimate goal for me.
Mike: For me it was much more internal. I look after a team of two people, so anything I can do to become a better manager is a real benefit to all involved.
NS: So, different reasons for starting. Different learnings too?
Bart: Since taking the course, what I’ve noticed is that I have a much better understanding of our clients’ business models and why they’re making certain decisions. We’ve all been in scenarios where certain analogies have gone over our heads, but now I feel far more informed and better placed to advise and converse. A lot of the recruitment sector profess to be ‘consultants’, but in my time I’ve seen that this typically means a subservient service and a lack of understanding.
Mike: See it’s the theory which interests me, especially around the different types of management styles. I think everyone has a concept of what a good manager is, but the truth is that some styles are more appropriate in certain situations or with different individuals. Learning when and where to use each style has been one of the biggest benefits for me.
NS: So, what’s your leadership style?
Mike: I think I’m still finding it! I’d like to think I have a good balance though. The team knows that I’m always there for them, but that I can also drive them forward when necessary. I’m not sure if Bart would agree…
Bart: Luckily for Mike, I do! He’s extremely personable, which is genuinely essential when you’re working in a small business. At the same time, he understands what we’re trying to achieve as a wider business and can convey our message effectively. Finding that balance is a constant challenge for any manager.
NS: Is it helpful having someone alongside you who’s done it before? Or does it feel a bit like Fergy when he’s watching from the stands at Old Trafford?
Mike: It’s helpful, but less in terms of direct advice, and more because it proves it’s achievable. There are days where you can’t stomach another minute of studying, but knowing Bart has already completed his course is enough motivation to continue.
Bart: If I can do it, anyone can. Not to do myself a disservice! You’ve just got to be in the right mindset as the amount of work involved shouldn’t be taken lightly and when times are tough keep ploughing on.
Mike: Plus, I’m doing a different level to Bart, so it’s not like I can copy his answers!
Bart: If you’re looking for a Fergy figure, then that’s John – he’ll love that! From a practical perspective, he’s been there and done it, so it’s helpful to have him checking in at the major milestones. John is a great example of a leader who trusts you to manage it yourself but is always on hand to offer support. It’s a good management style to look up to.
NS: What’s the support been like from Newman Stewart?
Mike: It’s exactly what we needed. Both of our courses were practically put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so being trusted to complete it in our own time was a real vote of confidence. There’s a lot to take in, and of course the day to day work comes first, but John always gives me the time I need to get everything done.
Bart: Everyone in the business recognises that we’ve got a job to do, but it never feels like we’re being pushed to meet impossible deadlines. Instead, it’s very much a case of “what do you need from us in order to cross the finish line?”.
Mike: The course is meant to take up around 20% of your work week, so the support from Newman Stewart is definitely appreciated.
NS: Would you recommend the course to anyone else?
Bart: Yes. I genuinely think it’s a course which anyone embarking on a management position or currently leading a team should take. It may sound like a lot of theory without much substance, but when you’re doing it alongside a full-time management position, you start to realise just how valuable it can be.
Mike: It’s not like a classroom setting. It’s an apprenticeship, in that you’re putting what you learn into practice every day.
Bart: That’s why it’s so important for companies to support their employees with training programmes like this one, giving them the tools they need to succeed. It shows that you’re committed to developing your people, and it upskills your entire team — both of which can be a big factor in attracting and retaining top talent.
Mike: I say to clients and candidates all the time that the best people don’t want to sit and do the same thing for five years. So, when we offer these training courses, we’re showing clients that we live and breathe what we say as an organisation and they aren’t just empty words.
Bart: Recruitment can often be seen as a quick way to make an even quicker buck which is a real shame and unfortunately it can give a tainted view to what is an essential industry for the UK economy. What differentiates Newman Stewart is that, if you’re committed to developing your career, then so are we and we’re in it for the long haul. I think our clients understand and appreciate this.
NS: Will there be any future courses for you both?
Mike: I’m sure there will be but, for now, let’s get this one finished! I’ll take a few months’ rest from studying and completing coursework, but then I’d definitely be tempted to step back into the lion’s den.
Bart: I’d be keen to take on a Masters in the long run, but for the most part, I just want to encourage as many people to take the course as I can. Not because I want them to become better leaders. Just because I want them to go through the same pain I went through!
For now my biggest management and leadership challenge is a 2 year old and I can safely say I’ve used every ounce of knowledge from the course!