We've been hearing a lot over the years about the "war for talent," "talent retention" and "talent management" as being the most critical issues for companies, and these problems don't seem to be going away. In fact, as global economies continue to evolve and grow, and processes and procedures become more and more automated, who and how we hire is even more important. Corporations, globally, are desperate for educated, solidly skilled and well-trained employees.
The problem is not all talent comes prepared with all the necessary skills to be successful.
According to a study done by LinkedIn, 27 percent of North American businesses are going to spend more on internal learning programs in 2017. Specifically, the research showed that the subjects both small and large companies most want to focus on are 1) management and leadership skills, 2) technical skills and 3) career development.
Here's my take on what is most required, wanted and useful for companies today:
Management and Leadership Skills
Top management must continue to learn to inspire, motivate and empower their leadership teams. Listening to what's needed "on the ground," maybe even spending more time there, will give leaders the information they need to direct the company's mission. Spending time developing for the first time, or revisiting the firm's culture and values, allows leaders to standardize policies, systems, and best practices - particularly globally. And most importantly, communication is vital. The messages leadership sends virtually and in person are essential to creating a positive and productive atmosphere.
A leader doesn't have to be dynamic and charming--just highly communicative and transparent.
Understanding diversity, especially generations, culture, and gender will be a top priority in 2018. How do diverse cultures perceive leadership? Who's job is it to make decisions? How will the up and coming workforce relate to hierarchy, organizational structure, etc.? What kind of work lives do they see for themselves? And then there's gender. What types of organizations support more gender balance? How do we encourage more women to go for the top (if that's what they want)?
With rapid advancements in digitalization, technical skills will, while still relevant, take a back seat to "soft skills." That means knowing "soft skills" (which I think are hard) will be even more critical for frontline managers and those new to management. Studies have shown that 47 percent of managers don't receive any training when they take a new leadership role. This lack of training can be especially detrimental to technical teams because now one of their leading techies just got promoted to management and suddenly their job shifts from expert to leading experts. If communication and delegation skills aren't in place, there could be a real lack of knowledge transfer.
Technical skills are still necessary today. A firm may need to invest in more extensive and specialized training to remain competitive in sourcing talent.Assessing an employee's abilities in critical thinking, analytical skills and the state of their technical experience is crucial to know what talent you can leverage and what training needs to be done.
A staggering 93 percent of managers feel they need training on how to coach their employees. Giving advice, mentoring, and delivering feedback are all routine aspects to management, but more and more direct reports need to take responsibility for solving problems, taking steps to action, and managing their own careers. Gone are the days of traditional career paths and step-by-step advancement. If a manager acts as a good coach, they not only take the pressure off of themselves to provide all the answers, avoid constant back and forth, they also empower their team to set and achieve their own goals - those that matter most to them.
My favorite model to use for coaching is the G.R.O.W. Model. Managers can easily learn and adapt this to their daily interactions with direct reports. The secret to coaching is to ask questions and reframe. As opposed to answering and solving. Marshall Goldsmith's book, Coaching for Leadership, is an excellent resource for coach training. Also, the book I'm coming out with this year - The New Global Manager - will give practical advice and share the best methods how to manage across diverse personalities, globally. Also on Twitter an excellent resource for understanding what managers and employees go through in the career development process is https://twitter.com/askamanager.
With the continuing need for superb talent, trained employees and excellent managers, learning programs need funding, strong attention to detail and expert instructional designers. The programs I have developed and run for organizations like SAP, LinkedIn, SpaceX, and SMA Solar are all focused on strong communication and interaction--the people skills we need both locally and globally.