How to Prepare Your Managers for Upskilling
Upskilling and reskilling are powerful strategies to combat the war on talent that we have seen in recent years following mass automation, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the subsequent Great Resignation. Companies are becoming increasingly aware of their internal skill gaps and the great cost of leaving them unclosed. By 2030, the US is expected to lose $8.5 trillion in unrealized revenue from skill gaps and the talent shortage. Large internal skill gaps also cause increased stress, loss of productivity, lower the quality of work and lead to overall disengagement across the organization. To begin closing skill gaps, companies must take stock of their current workforce and create a plan to combat the shortening half-life of skills. An ideal upskilling initiative will work dynamically to keep track of what skills organizations currently possess, what skills they will need in the future and a development plan to guide employees to success. However, before you implement, what can you do now to make sure that your managers are best prepared for organizational change? In a recent survey, only 18% of CEOs reported “significant progress” in their upskilling efforts. To truly maximize costly business changes, it pays to take a step back to try and identify progress blockers in advance. One of the biggest blockers to adoption of such an initiative is not properly preparing your management team for company-wide upskilling.
Anytime something new, whether program or technology, is added to managers’ agendas, there can arise natural resistance to change. Your leaders may be asking each other questions such as: Will it be hard to implement? How much time will I need to devote to this? How will it affect my team’s business goals? Your managers are extremely valuable parts of any company-wide change and taking the time to prepare them can help insure better communication and adoption for your whole team.
When starting a development strategy, many organizations look to managers to lead the charge. However, research shows that 65% of managers need to be upskilled or reskilled themselves, such as in human skills like “agility” or the ability to respond to change. Skills like agility can help managers respond to change and also guide their team to take action when it is needed. As upskilling is implemented due to new workforce demands, a manager with well-developed management capabilities can be a champion in supporting their employees’ development.
How to Support Manager Adoption
Lead with Transparency
Proper implementation should invest in assessment of the current workload of your leaders and provide resources into proper training on your upskilling program. Transparency of your organizational goals is also an important step to building trust in the implementation. Organizations need to be clear on the path and desired benefits of new technology and processes and share these with managers before on-boarding the entire workforce. Offer time for those in charge to assess the plan and provide feedback on their concerns to help build a plan with them in mind. Additionally, make sure to check in with them at important milestones for feedback and adjustments if necessary.
Communicate the Benefits of Upskilling
Once your managers better understand the goals of your development program, make sure to review ‘the why’ with them. While it is obviously beneficial to your business to close skill gaps, what are the benefits to your managers?
- Upskilling employees helps managers understand efficiency gaps and know that they are being worked on.
- Upskilling employees helps managers understand the skills employees wish to improve on, leading to better engagement.
- Upskilling employees creates more proficient team members leading to better results.
- Upskilling employees frees up management time previously spent on supporting employees in areas needed for improvement.
- Upskilling employees helps employees to develop their skills for the long-term, allowing managers to have high-performers for longer.
It’s clear to see that upskilling employees benefits managers. Let’s take a look how that is done. Skills assessment is the first step in an upskilling program. We can’t identify where skill gaps lie if we’re unsure of what skills people currently process. An intuitive software can then match people skills to their desired career goals and show what skills and competencies they are missing for advancement. This allows for much clearer conversation between managers and employees on what they should be working on. As employees develop, they become more proficient in their current and future job skills. This also allows for employees to take the driver’s seat on their development, basing it on their individual interests. Personalizing development in this way can help increase employee engagement and satisfaction for all the employees on a manager’s team. This can also help managers see where employees are stuck and help increase productivity across their team.
Taking the time to invest in manager development, helping them lead adoption efforts and better communicating benefits can help ensure good adoption and success across the organization. When your managers are better prepared and have a way to connect easily with employees through skill assessment and development, they can help increase productivity and eliminate roadblocks faster. John Maxwell made the statement “People quit people, not companies.” in his book, Leadership Gold and a study by Gallup showed that 50% of Americans have left a job to “get away from their manager at some point in their career”. One of the overlooked facts of retention and operational efficiency is that quality leadership matters. When beginning your upskilling program, assessment should begin with your managers. If you can get your trusted people on board with your organizational goals, you can ensure adoption from the top down to help set everyone up for success.
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