Spring makeover

Do your man­agers have the skills needed for fast-paced busi­ness world?

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE - BAR­BARA BOWES

IT’S in­ter­est­ing how spring brings with it the urge to clean and re­fresh the en­vi­ron­ment around us. Some peo­ple ea­gerly look out at their gar­den and count the days un­til they can sift the soil be­tween their fin­gers. Still oth­ers start pon­der­ing how soon they will need to take their old lawn­mower apart and en­sure it is up to this year’s work tasks. In the work­place, some folks use this time of year to clean out their desks and stor­age rooms and/or re­or­ga­nize nearby shelv­ing.

As well, with the start of the typ­i­cal new busi­ness calendar year, some or­ga­ni­za­tions also de­ter­mine it’s time to re­view their or­ga­ni­za­tional struc­ture and clean up any ar­eas of du­pli­ca­tion and/ or re­dun­dancy through strate­gies of­ten re­ferred to as right siz­ing. How­ever, shift­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity around through struc­tural changes won’t ad­dress the ques­tion of whether the right peo­ple are in the right place at the right time. Af­ter all, with so many changes to our busi­ness work world, the skills and com­pe­ten­cies needed to man­age to­day and in the fu­ture are so dif­fer­ent than in ear­lier times.

Un­for­tu­nately, to be hon­est, many man­agers have failed to keep up with the en­vi­ron­men­tal work-re­lated changes around them. They con­tinue to op­er­ate in an out­dated man­age­ment style, their in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy skills are weak and they can’t re­late to em­ploy­ees in a col­lab­o­ra­tive team ap­proach. In ad­di­tion, they can’t seem to en­vi­sion a global per­spec­tive, but rather con­tinue to stay in their nar­row com­fort zone.

Or­ga­ni­za­tions, on the other hand, are just as guilty as they fre­quently fail to as­sess the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of their man­agers as com­pared to the needs of a fast-paced global world. What’s the re­sult? Those man­agers who don’t have the skills for to­day’s work chal­lenges are dy­ing an in­sid­i­ously slow death and are drag­ging the or­ga­ni­za­tion down with them. When the sit­u­a­tion is fi­nally con­fronted, most of­ten it is too late. Com­peti­tors will have taken over the mar­ket. Ser­vices or prod­ucts will have be­come out­dated and no longer rel­e­vant. Then, as you might ex­pect, no cus­tomers or no clients mean no busi­ness and no or­ga­ni­za­tion.

So, what are the skills a strong leader re­quires in to­day’s com­pet­i­tive world? While there are mul­ti­ple com­pe­ten­cies to be de­vel­oped, I be­lieve the fol­low­ing four skills are ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal.

Man­ag­ing chal­lenge, change and in­no­va­tion — To­day’s lead­ers need to have the ca­pa­bil­ity and the stamina to con­tin­u­ally chal­lenge their vi­sion, mis­sion, goals and ob­jec­tives and en­sure that these meet their ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges. They also need to put strate­gies in place to con­tin­u­ally chal­lenge the way they do things and to make process im­prove­ment their op­er­a­tional mantra.

Deal­ing with am­bi­gu­ity — Lead­ing and man­ag­ing in a fluid en­vi­ron­ment is dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially when peo­ple pre­fer struc­ture and sta­bil­ity. To­day’s leader must be re­source­ful and be able to mo­ti­vate their team to con­tinue be­ing pro­duc­tive while am­bi­gu­ity is all around them. Keep­ing em­ploy­ees fo­cused and com­mit­ted to a pow­er­ful vi­sion is key.

Coach­ing lead­er­ship style — Lead­er­ship has changed from a “top down, do as I say” ap­proach to a coach­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ship with em­ploy­ees. This style takes longer, but achieves more em­ployee sup­port and en­gage­ment. Lead­ers need to have ex­cel­lent com­mu­ni­ca­tion and re­la­tion­ship build­ing skills to ap­ply a coach­ing lead­er­ship style.

Tech­no­log­i­cal com­pe­tency — Let’s face it, there is no turn­ing back. Our world re­lies on in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. We love in­stant ac­cess and in­stant an­swers. We want to be in the know. Thus, lead­ers need to be ex­tremely com­pe­tent, not only at their own per­sonal use of tech­nol­ogy, but also at be­ing able to en­vi­sion how tech­nol­ogy can take their or­ga­ni­za­tion to the lead­ing edge. Then they must be de­ci­sive and act.

Yet, if these skills and com­pe­ten­cies aren’t typ­i­cally as­sessed through nor­mal an­nual per­for­mance re­views, how can they be ad­dressed? Thank­fully, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy pro­vides a range of meth­ods and tools that can be used to as­sess your cur­rent lead­er­ship. These as­sess­ment tools pro­vide in­sight into the ef­fec­tive­ness of the lead­er­ship team and pro­vide rec­om­men­da­tions to sup­port and to de­velop in­di­vid­u­als. Sev­eral as­sess­ment tools also have the ca­pa­bil­ity to pro­vide com­par­isons be­tween your lead­ers and re­gional or even global or­ga­ni­za­tions.

How­ever, once you are aware of the re­al­ity of your lead­er­ship deficits and gaps, what can you do? Bridg­ing the lead­er­ship gaps re­quires both tac­ti­cal and strate­gic ap­proaches.

If time is on your side, a strong train­ing and lead­er­ship de­vel­op­ment ap­proach can be ef­fec­tive. This will re­quire a five-to 10-year de­vel­op­ment strat­egy. Train­ing should be fo­cused on de­vel­op­ing skills in strate­gic plan­ning, coach­ing, men­tor­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing staff. De­pend­ing on the size of your or­ga­ni­za­tion, con­sider de­vel­op­ing a pool of em­ploy­ees for a va­ri­ety of lead­er­ship roles. Ro­tate high per­form­ers into dif­fer­ent roles within your or­ga­ni­za­tion. Con­sider “sec­ond­ing” an em­ployee to an­other or­ga­ni­za­tion to learn a spe­cific skill. Fi­nan­cially sup­port em­ploy­ees to de­velop their skills through ex­ter­nal train­ing pro­grams fo­cused on spe­cific skills. Fi­nally, de­velop a men­tor­ing re­la­tion­ship through­out the work­place so that or­ga­ni­za­tional his­tory is ef­fec­tively passed on to new and up­com­ing lead­ers.

How­ever, in many cases, once a busi­ness sit­u­a­tion be­comes crit­i­cal, time will not be on your side. The only so­lu­tion here is to make a ma­jor change to your se­nior lead­er­ship team. This means bring­ing in a new leader and mov­ing an un­skilled se­nior leader or lead­ers out of the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Tran­si­tions such as this re­quire care­ful plan­ning that in­cludes emo­tional sup­port for re­main­ing em­ploy­ees.

Keep in mind that while an in­di­vid­ual may have been un­skilled with re­spect to mov­ing your or­ga­ni­za­tion for­ward, they still had re­la­tion­ships in the work­place and these must be ad­dressed. Be sure to com­mu­ni­cate to staff the ra­tio­nale for the changes and give them hope for a fu­ture. Com­mu­ni­cate with your ven­dors, cus­tomers or clients and as­sure them your or­ga­ni­za­tion is tak­ing the reins of change and charg­ing for­ward.

Spring is in­deed a good time to ex­plore how to re­fresh your or­ga­ni­za­tion, but this task is not as sim­ple as mak­ing a quick struc­tural change. In­stead, all of your “clean­ing” strate­gies and re­fresh­ment tac­tics must fo­cus on align­ing your goals and ob­jec­tives for the fu­ture with build­ing your em­ployee ca­pac­ity to move for­ward.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.