Effective leadership is more important today than ever. Leaders are struggling to engage staff in today’s work environment, from managing remote employees to adjusting to new organisational structures — and that disengagement comes at a cost.
Gallup estimates that «low engagement alone costs the global economy $7.8 trillion.» Organisations cannot afford to disregard employee engagement, especially in a labour market as tight as this one. Employee engagement must be rethought from the ground up.
«More than anything else, employees want to feel valued, respected, and supported,» according to Chris McLean, vice president of training and global master trainer at The Centre for Leadership Studies. Leaders have an important role in making employees feel appreciated and supported, which may lead to better workplace engagement.
It is time for learning and development (L&D) to reconsider our approach to leadership training in order to educate leaders to effectively assist their staff — and, as a result, transform organisations. Let’s look at five tips for transforming your leadership training for the new workplace.
The Organisational Structure is Flat
Top-down hierarchical organisational systems, in which ideas, instructions (and other things) flow downhill from the C-level through management to individual employees, are becoming less popular.
Instead, innovative companies encourage leadership at all levels. This varies from company to company, or even within the same company, but a flat organisation often has a streamlined, lean hierarchy with fewer levels of administration. Decision-making authority is divided among staff in a flat organisation, and communication is more frequent. Individuals are allowed more freedom to respond to difficulties in a more agile manner, to explore new ideas, and to design more efficient methods.
To make this work, L&D must prepare employees at all levels with leadership abilities. Individual contributors must have the abilities and confidence to demonstrate leadership; for example, someone in charge of a committee or driving a project will require leadership qualities to see the initiative through. Someone who does not formally lead others may find themselves at a disadvantage if called upon to do so unexpectedly.
Increase the Flow of Data
A flat organisation, as previously stated, results in a multi-directional flow of information and influence. This is great news! However, it can be chaotic, especially if business leaders are unwilling to step in and help manage the flow.
Developing a common language of performance may aid in this by not only providing individual contributors with leadership abilities but also allowing them to interact throughout the organisation while holding themselves and their colleagues responsible.
Consider the following scenario: a marketing department releases a new product without consulting the sales staff. Due to a lack of cross-departmental communication, sales representatives may find themselves scrambling to describe product characteristics to prospective buyers. Instead, envision a product rollout team formed expressly for this new product, with both sales people and marketing team members participating. This hybrid team may be managed by someone from the sales or marketing teams — someone knowledgeable about the new product’s specifications, but not necessary at the managerial level.
Make Your Employees Feel Appreciated
Employee appreciation is an effective method for increasing employee engagement. Employees are more motivated and engaged in their work when they feel appreciated and understand how their job position relates to overall corporate goals.
Leaders should interact with workers on a frequent basis to assist them realise the influence they have on the company. They should also collaborate with workers to develop professional objectives and link them with opportunities for learning and promotion to assist them accomplish those goals. Employees, on the other hand, must actively participate in their own growth. «Individual contributors must own their engagement, raise their hands, and ask for what they need,» McLean adds.
Leaders and staff should collaborate to develop a workable strategy. Leaders can begin by assisting an employee in creating a skills matrix — a grid that can be used to visualise an individual’s ability levels in various areas. You may assist your staff in developing a strategy to go where they want to go by mapping out where they are currently.
Change Must Be Accepted
Change is the only constant in today’s world, as we all know. Employee demands will continually evolve as a result of technological improvements and changes in processes or procedures. This necessitates leaders regularly assessing employees’ skills, recognising skill gaps, and offering the appropriate degree of help and direction at the appropriate time.
Managing change is difficult. We are not all born with the ability to accomplish this. To prosper in changing environments, leaders and individual contributors must be prepared with change management abilities. In a flat organisational structure, skills such as emotional intelligence, clear communication, and motivating peers are critical.
The role of the leader has changed dramatically. Leaders must evaluate not just workers’ skill sets but also their emotional condition. They must support the entire person rather than just the workflow. «People now bring their entire lives to work,» McLean adds. «Employees no longer regard work as separate from their personal lives.»
Individual contributors may be met where they are by leaders who provide more flexible scheduling, remote work and learning opportunities, and wellness assistance. Leaders should also encourage open communication and cooperation, as well as give workers with the skills and resources needed to make this a reality in a dispersed workplace.
In the Future
Organisations are experiencing unprecedented levels of change. However, strong leadership can mean the difference between a company’s success and failure. L&D must endeavour to prepare leaders to help workers during these turbulent times. You can guarantee that your company is ready for anything the modern world of work throws at it by staying ahead of technological change with appropriate training and assistance.
A leadership model, such as the Situational Leadership® Model, may give a structured strategy to developing leaders at all levels and departments, as well as useful metrics for tracking their growth. Understanding your learners’ Performance Readiness® as well as the leadership styles that may fit them can assist you in developing training that speaks directly to each individual learner.
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