“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” That advice by Will Rogers was good nearly 100 years ago when he gave it. It’s good advice for business owners today as well.
With each passing day, the odds of returning to a pre-COVID state become less likely. Time and distance have a way of changing things, whether it’s welcome or not. To prepare for the road ahead often requires that we change ourselves. For business owners, what worked in the past may no longer serve your future needs. An example of where this is true involves supervisor and manager development. In most cases, those within these roles receive minimal opportunities to develop skills. The training they do receive typically involves long-standing management practices.
To succeed, middle and front-line managers need soft skills. Most lack them, and developing them would have an immediate impact. Soft skills enable more effective communications and are the foundation of influence. This blog will highlight five reasons why management training and development should be a top priority for 2021.
For the first time in history, changes in technology outpace rates of adoption. Regardless of what your company does, technology is going to impact how you go about doing it. For your organization to remain competitive, you must keep pace with shifts among industry peers. To succeed, you must have the ability to make changes when needed. You must also have middle managers ready, willing, and able to assist. Today, they’re not prepared and lack the skills necessary to lead change where it matters most – with employees.
Many organizations operate very differently today than they did 20 years ago. Nowhere is that more apparent than the function and role of middle and front-line managers. In most instances, companies are leaner and operate with fewer levels of management. As a result, many have increased the number of direct reports assigned to each manager or supervisor.
Also, the scope of responsibilities has increased, and the regulatory landscape has become more complex. The fact that middle and front-line resources are doing more with less is only part of the problem. Senior managers have less time to coach or mentor their junior counterparts, resulting in decreased morale and increased turnover rates. Soft skills are more important than ever, and helping develop them will benefit everyone at your company.
We now have five generations of employees on the job. Their needs and preferred communication styles vary. Factor in an increasingly diverse and inclusive workforce, and most middle and front-line managers find themselves ill-prepared and lacking the skills needed to succeed. The single most important skill for supervisors involves building relations and establishing rapport with direct reports -- often termed "social intelligence". It's a critical skill for middle managers and front-line supervisors because it allows them to build teams and unity for the common good of the organization. This ability is something traditional management practices can’t provide.
Those on the front line must learn leadership skills that are practical, relevant, and actionable. Most importantly, they must learn the skills needed to achieve results through others consistently.
Maintaining the status quo is no longer enough. Providing middle managers and front-line supervisors with title and authority alone won’t cut it.
For organizations to succeed, they must now revisit the role and function of these supervisors. They are a resource critical to future outcomes at your company.
The nature of the marketplace, workplace, and workforce suggests change is our new reality, and nimble is our new norm. Middle and front-line managers must learn skills required to lead, implement, and integrate to practice transitions that will ultimately determine success or failure – not only for these critical resources but for the organizations they represent.
Change is inevitable. Success isn’t.
For those looking to embrace the opportunities of a post-COVID future, the journey begins now. It must involve a fresh perspective on the organization's needs, including those involving the personnel responsible for meeting the challenges ahead. The five reasons why management training and development should be a top priority for 2021 is only a starting point. As with any journey, the most critical step is the first.