Want to get promoted? You need new skills

2012

In many organizations, leaders seem to assume that managers should automatically know how to get along with and how to train others and that decades of interpersonal habits can be turned around in a one-day seminar. Sadly, neither is true. Management skills rarely come via osmosis.

The skills needed for success at one level in an organization do not necessarily qualify you to be successful at the next. For example, promoting your best salesperson to sales manager is not always a good idea, because not only do you lose your best salesperson, you often wind up with a mediocre sales manager. It's not always the case, but it's more common than not.

Great front line employees learn the nuances of the raw product and the processes required to achieve an expected outcome, and then work diligently to achieve that outcome. They may or may not need good people skills (although it almost always helps for most jobs). However, at the manager and supervisory level, advanced people-skills are much more important, and for many it is a completely new skill set.

To be successful, managers must learn the nuances of the people on their team and also master the skill of communicating with others to make processes more efficient. Additionally, they must learn to train front line employees, a totally new but necessary skill set for many.

These are core essential skills for supervisors, yet how many management training programs emphasize them? Too many management training classes place their focus on the "hard" skills of budgeting, goal setting, scheduling. These are necessary, but if you're looking for management training, I strongly recommend finding something that includes employee interaction and training skills in the core curriculum. I also believe managers should also be taught how to create job descriptions, as that way they become intimately acquainted with what employees are expected to do.

The emphasis of equating people skills with core skills is not new. A study commissioned by the National Science Foundation centered on what skills were most needed in the workplace. Focus groups could not say enough about the importance of interpersonal skills - identified as human relations skills, knowing how to deal with people, and getting along with others. The focus groups discovered that "given a choice of technical skills or interpersonal skills, employers invariably said they would opt for interpersonal skills. Employees who lacked interpersonal skills either did not last long in an organization or presented problems to their managers, who had to spend an inordinate amount of time working with them to develop such skills."

Unfortunately, many leaders erroneously assume that managers should automatically know how to get along with and how to train others. Sadly, this is not the case.

The other erroneous assumption is that decades of interpersonal habits can be turned around in a one-day travelling road-show seminar. As a seasoned human resource development professional, allow me to state that it's unrealistic to expect people to gain these skills in a one- or two-day workshop. Behavioral change takes more time than that. The most effective methods I've seen spreads out such training over several months.

As an example, I recently took a company through 24 hours of core-skills management training but we delivered it in six four-hour workshops spread over four months. The retention and application levels achieved by using that method were exponential when compared to if we had crammed all that material into three 8-hour sessions.

The managers said they enjoyed being able to take what was taught in a class, apply it to the workplace, and then come back a few weeks later to build more skills. Front line grievances went way down and department heads were communicating in ways they'd only hoped for previously.

We could isolate all the various ROI factors, but just the grievance reduction alone made a positive impact on their bottom line. In fact, another company I worked with saw a 68 percent reduction in grievances (from 7 – 10 per month to 2 or 3 per month) after just six four-hour sessions. At $6,500 per grievance, that's a huge financial benefit.

Beyond the management / supervisory level is the leadership level, and again, an entirely new skill set is required to be successful there. Leaders are responsible for developing and communicating the vision, getting feedback, and making whatever adjustments are needed for optimal success in the strategic plan. They must also be aware of what skills and equipment are needed to reach the organization's goals and provide training and tools when necessary.

Again, these skills rarely come via osmosis, so leaders (and aspiring leaders) will increase their chances for success if they master these skills. Many stellar managers have been promoted to leadership only to fail because they never acquired the aforementioned core leadership skills.

Whenever you have a multi-tiered organization, each level requires its own set of skills. Whatever you call them, unique core skills are needed at each level to increase productivity, effectiveness, and profitability. So make it part of your culture to build these skills - at all levels. Not only is it a good financial investment, it always increases your chances of overall success.

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About The Author

Dan Bobinski
Dan Bobinski

Dan Bobinski is a training specialist, author, and an accomplished keynote speaker. He's been providing management and leadership training to Fortune 500 companies as well as smaller, regional concerns for more than 20 years.