The job of managing is getting harder. The challenges of 21st century leadership and management include working in an environment of constant change and the increasing complexity of organisational structures.
Managers must also deal with a tough economic climate and growing competition.
New technologies, the knowledge economy and the rise of social media, greater transparency, rising consumer demands and environmental resource concerns all add to a potent and complex mix of challenges that managers must negotiate to be successful.
The ways in which an organisation meets these challenges can mean the difference between success and failure. Successive studies have shown that getting the right mix of inspirational leadership and effective management skills and practices can have a significant impact on organisational performance.
LEADERSHIP & MANAGEMENT IN THE UK – THE KEY TO SUSTAINABLE GROWTH
“…improving leadership and management capability is an issue that no organisation wishing to achieve long-term success can afford to ignore. There is no question that good leadership and management can have a truly significant impact on organisational performance, both in the immediate and longer term.
Add to this the skills challenge all developed countries face
CIPD report Over-Skilled and Underused. Investigating the untapped potential of UK skills
“the inefficient matching of people’s skills and competencies with those required for their jobs as one of the key problems facing organisations and their workers. Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said their skills were not well matched to their roles.
Skills mismatches – which occur when someone either has the skills to cope with more demanding duties or lacks some of the key skills required to perform their job effectively – have important individual and organisational ramifications. Those in mismatched roles are more likely to suffer from psychological distress, report lower job satisfaction and more likely to want to quit. In addition, they are saddled with more limited earning potential and progression opportunities. A significant portion (32%) doubt there is trust between management and employees. These factors produce a further knock-on effect for the organisations they work for, manifesting in poorer staff retention and reduced workforce productivity
Conversely, research has shown that when people are able to use their skills fully, organisations benefit from improved retention of workers, greater employee engagement and enhanced relations between management and employees. Analysis from the OECD further suggests that the UK on the whole could benefit from a 5% productivity gain if the level of skills mismatches could be reduced to OECD best practice levels”
Accelerating Workforce Reskilling for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work)
“The way we work, the skills we need to thrive in our jobs and the trajectories of our careers are rapidly evolving. These changes—driven by technological innovation, demographics, shifting business models and nature of work—are significantly altering the skills demanded by the labour market. Over one in four adults surveyed in the OECD reported a mismatch between their current skills and the qualifications required for their jobs.Furthermore, approximately 35% of the skills demanded for jobs across industries will change by 2020.Such skills mismatches and skills churn have increased the need for adult skilling, reskilling and upskilling throughout a person’s career.”
The Global Workforce Crisis
“For our research, we performed simulations on 25 major economies to quantify the extent of labour shortages and surpluses for 2020 and 2030. Overall, by 2020, many countries will still be experiencing a surplus. By 2030, however, this surplus will have turned into a massive shortfall.
These are some of the crippling labour shortages that chronic labour surpluses that the world faces:
I believe skills management will become the single most important issue for Leaders and Managers in the coming decade. One of the biggest levers you have available to address these challenges is contained within your own organisation and it is your front line leaders and managers.
Employees promoted to their first management role often get little more than hearty congratulations and some introductory training. Yet this career juncture brings a huge shift in responsibility. Frontline Leaders and Managers have the most direct impact on employee engagement, customer satisfaction and operational productivity.
These people have been promoted from ‘doing’ to ‘leading’, typically because of their technical expertise and high productivity. Instead of being responsible for their own output alone, they now manage others, and their day-to-day success requires a completely different set of capabilities.
Despite the magnitude of the transition a recent survey found that although they make up or influence 80% of the workforce, these managers only receive 20%-30% of a typical companies’ leadership development efforts.
And many of the programmes that do exist to develop frontline leaders and managers are ineffective. Companies typically list some generic competencies that managers need to have, like communication or problem solving and then build a training programme with workshops and e-learning to help close the gap. This approach lends itself to solutions that are often far too theoretical and don’t apply to the daily challenges that Frontline Leaders and Managers face.
Without the tools they need to become better managers, and help their teams to become more productive, many Frontline Leaders and Managers understandably revert to the behaviours that feel most comfortable to them. If your team is not performing well and you’re responsible for its results, you can solve that short-term problem by relying on what you are good at, the technical expertise and productivity that got you promoted in the first place.
Companies need to change their perspective on development. They need to move away from ‘training’ as the solution and instead focus on understanding what their Frontline Leaders and Managers do every day, week, month and year. They need to embed development into Frontline Leaders and Managers everyday work and routines to ensure the improvements gained are sustainable.
At many organisations, there’s along list of areas in which Frontline Leaders and Managers can improve, which is understandable, given how new they are to management. But addressing all of them would be overwhelming and counterproductive, so we need to identify what are likely to have the biggest impact on performance. We can find this from the managers themselves using a set of tools.
Identify top performers through reputation and annual reviews. Engage with them in focus groups, shadowing them as they work, talking to their teams and managers, and comparing them with average performers to highlight what they are doing differently. How do they manage challenging situations with their teams?
By collecting and synthesising these insights we can identify what “good” looks like in your Frontline Leaders and Managers, determine what those who aren’t performing as well do differently, and begin to codify specific practices to close the gap.
Complete a survey across a wider group of Frontline Leaders and Managers how they spend their time each day. By breaking down the workday and tracking leaders’ activities, we can start to spot trends.
For example, is a supervisor spending more time doing the teams job than leading the team? Are they spending a lot of time on unproductive activities?
Compiling the data across different groups of Frontline Leaders and Managers will identify priorities that we can address.
In addition, understanding how Frontline Leaders and Managers spend their time allows us to identify points in the workday where new capability building measures can be added.
We will look at the stress levels of supervisor’s experience when they perform specific activities. For example, they may feel anxious about establishing credibility. They may not enjoy standing up in front of their teams and discussing productivity goals.
The may wonder what their employees really think of them and subconsciously try to be liked rather than respected – leading to performance problems.
By analysing these stress points and identifying what the best Frontline Leaders and Managers have done to overcome them, we can begin to understand and address their root causes.
Do these problems affect only a handful of managers? Do they point to more widespread organisational issues? Can we put measures in place to help managers deal with stress points?
Helping Frontline Leaders and Managers prepare for important routines and specific moments in the workday will dramatically improve their confidence and productivity.
Armed with the real-world insights about your Frontline Leaders and Managers, top performers and underperformers alike we can begin finding real-world solutions. Like the first step, this process differs from traditional approach to leadership development, which is often too theoretical for practical use. Nor does it pull people away from their daily job responsibilities.
The most effective tools and solutions for Frontline Leaders and Managers are woven into their daily work.
For example, rather than making Frontline Leaders and Managers sit through a training module about communication skills, we can develop these skills during the ten minute morning meetings that they hold daily by giving them a checklist of items to cover.
Or we can make one-to-one discussions with team members part of Frontline Leaders and Managers weekly or monthly routines.
Then we can give them specific tools they need to make these routines more effective, such as checklists, daily and weekly schedules, mobile apps and sample scripts to help them provide feedback to employees.
To be clear, training is still valuable and needs to be part of a broader set of tools that can be directly incorporated into day-to-day work and responsibilities.
A benefit of tapping into top-performing Frontline Leaders and Managers to identify priorities and in designing a development programme is that these people can serve as trainers, coaches and mentors for their peers.
Their suggestions invariably come across as more authentic and ‘homegrown’, rather than imposed from above. A secondary benefit is that it shows others that the company rewards excellence.
These leaders form a working group of internal experts who will be involved in every step of the process.
Starting with an initial pilot in a single area, refine it based on results and then roll it out to the rest of the members of the alliance in waves. Throughout that process, the working team of internal experts can grow through a learn-do-teach approach.
Digital tools can help companies implement these changes. We have an App that is design specifically to support competency development through multiple tools built into it. For example, highlighting the need to explain the rationale behind task, ask for feedback and encourage collaboration.
In addition, if Frontline Leaders and Managers seem to be overwhelmed by information coming from multiple sources, the app can help companies organise and deliver it in a more structured and digestible way.
Frequently the gains from development programmes are short-lived, so companies need to take steps to ensure they are sustainable. This often hinges not on the tools and solutions themselves but more on the way they are rolled out.
Changing the behaviour of Frontline Leaders and Managers often means addressing structural issues that affect the way they perform, meaning that the required intervention involves a change in the organisation.
Senior executives should serve as role models, which often means changing their own behaviour to align objectives of the leadership development program.
For example, if you ask Frontline Leaders and Managers to spend more time coaching their team members on-on-one, then senior managers must do this too. Senior leaders should ask Frontline Leaders and Managers who their best and worst performers are, what they are doing to develop them, and how the senior manager might help.
And they should ask them about the impact of the programme and regularly report on what they hear at their own leadership meetings. This type of ‘reverse cascade’ reinforces alignment between senior executives and frontline employees.
The forum needs to measure the impact of their development initiatives by looking at what the Frontline Leaders and Managers are doing differently from what they did in the past.
For example, how much they have shifted from doing to managing? How do their teams feel about them? How has customer satisfaction or team productivity improved?
Has near miss reporting or suggestions for improvement increased? Have accident and incident rates improved?
Based on these metrics, companies can refine the programme over time.
By taking the time to understand how Frontline Leaders and Managers work and the problems they face, by providing them with real-world solutions and embedding the necessary changes in to the organisation, companies can turn this cohort into an asset that will help more engaged teams increase productivity, improve safety and deliver a better experience for customers.
Moreover, it will allow them to build up a ‘bullpen’ of internal talent that will eventually provide the company’s midlevel managers and ultimately its senior leaders.
Imagine on their first day as a supervisor, a new supervisor is assigned a guide who breaks down each day and week into specific activities, such as coaching team members, administration and troubleshooting. Imagine they also receive a set of proven tools that peers have developed and used themselves to support managerial routine, including sample agendas for team meetings and ways to solicit real-time feedback on their own performance.
An App helps them stay connected with Frontline Leaders and Managers and track the needs of their teams; their goals, concerns, and development priorities for the coming week, month and year. If they have a question about a specific aspect of management – say the way to teach an employee a new technical skill- they can access via their smartphone a training module developed by his peers complete with the names and contact information for experts whom they can call on afterwards with additional questions.
They also have a mentor who’s a few years ahead of them and available to talk through problems as they arise. Occasionally, this person will shadow them for a morning to identify any areas where they could improve.
Periodic workshops allow them to role-play difficult scenarios risk free with peers and experts. An App through which they receive real-time feedback from their team and peers about what they are doing right and what needs work.
The end result is that, instead of trying to fight fires every day, they are now confident leaders running high performance teams.
They get the development they need – confirming that the company is investing in them – and they are being groomed for more senior roles as their skills, competence and capability develop.
If the company needs to adapt its strategy, executives can quickly translate new goals into specific measures that cascade down to their new leaders and ultimately their frontline employees.
" Good mix of practice and teaching "
" Looking at what I can do as well as the organisation "
" Relevant to my job "
" Varied, interactive, all content could be applied to my work "
" Very practical and focused on our project teams - made the learning very relevant "
" Very valuable info that I will be applying to my role "
" Relatable to my current situation "
" Performance Management is a key area of improvement for me "
" Makes you think of different ways of working "
" Very thought-provoking session "
" The content & delivery has given me confidence within my new role "
" Very informative & thought provoking, very relevant to me "
" Easy to grasp "
" Practical "
" Good points to take back for staff development "
" Extremely knowledgeable "
" Useful tools given to use with team "
" Really relevant to my team and department "
" Practical skills for me to take back to workplace "
" Made me think of ways in which to go about analysing current processes and how to improve them "
" Tools to evaluate systems "
" Clear & concise info given on various strategies for improvement "
" Gave us strategies to solve problems "
" Really well structured. Very informative. "
" Very good talk left me feeling re-inspired and invigorated for change and for the better "
" Left feeling motivational "