Management training needs to adapt


We are now in a relative lull after the technology development boom of the '90s. Then, organisations were caught up in a relentless cycle of having to add new technologies as soon as they became available simply to stay competitive, a process which placed a huge premium on being able to train staff to operate them.

With fewer significant IT advances in the pipeline today, organisations are now turning their attention to making sure they get the best out of their existing technology. We are seeing a move away from a mechanistic style to a more organic and creative approach to training, management and support.

There is an increasingly strong focus on developing an environment that supports the creativity of staff, to ensure they maximise the possibilities for that organisation of such vital technologies as the Internet.

At the same time, the focus tends to be much softer than five years ago and leadership styles are changing to match - and with them, the nature of management training.

If people are to work in an environment where they can be creative, then time, stress and personal management techniques are essential tools. And as a result, the past five years have seen a growing shift in emphasis towards people skills and coping strategies.

One of the biggest challenges the individual faces today is achieving an acceptable work-life balance while increasing their personal effectiveness in the workplace.

The 'workplace' itself has also changed: people are working from home, hot-desking and travelling the world for their organisations.

Working at home involves a completely set of disciplines and it's very easy for the lines between home and work life to get blurred and for people to become less effective if this isn't adequately addressed.

Employees often find themselves interacting with others who pile on the pressure often blissfully unaware of a five or ten-hour time difference

Hot-desking doesn't provide the security of a fixed workplace and constant travel can be extremely exhausting. What's more, wherever you are today, you can be pursued 24/7 by email, mobiles and voicemail. You can't even relax on plane anymore - so 'pressure of availability' is a real and widespread problem.

Even if you're not forever travelling, a significant number of people now work across one or more time zones. Employees often find themselves interacting with others who pile on the pressure often blissfully unaware of a five or ten-hour time difference.

Culture and language can also throw up problems. Somebody can be highly effective in their own language and environment but have difficulty working under pressure as part of a multi-cultural team without the proper support and training.

IT professionals, who at one time only needed to be technology experts, now need more people and communication skills if they are to be able to be able to get the best out of their teams in a global marketplace.

Even if your organisation employs the world's greatest technology experts, their value is seriously limited if they don't have the necessary skills today to communicate that knowledge, whether in a selling, support or coaching situation - and the type of management training they are offered has to reflect these essential requirements.

There's one big thing that hasn't changed though and is as true today as it ever was: an organisation's most valuable asset is its people. These people, however, are finding themselves under different and increasing pressures and it's vital for organisations to recognise and address the significant changes that have been taking place if this asset is going to continue to provide the maximum return on their investment.


About The Author

Bob Black
Bob Black

Black Bob Black is a Learning Tree course author and instructor who works with public and private sector organisations in the area of organisational development.