Upskilling your talent into leadership roles

Guest Column: Emmanuel Zvada

What do you do once you identify emerging leaders in your organisation? How do you give them the skills necessary to grow and adapt along with your business. Upskilling helps you identify and develop future leaders.

Identifying workers who are learning new skills that you value in leadership roles can give you a roster of promising candidates to take over should a manager or executive leave the business.

Upskilling is a worthwhile investment for more reasons than just higher engagement and proficiency in many organisations. The most successful companies don’t recruit leaders. They grow their own.

Identifying emerging leaders within an organisation is not always easy as people think. Being able to spot intangible qualities like leadership potential is something that many employers are not prepared to do.

Characteristics to look for in potential leaders include strong communication skills, ability to work as a team. Potential leaders should also be those able to embrace change, take initiative, strive to achieve, problem solvers, and are self-driven. These type of employees are ones who can be easily groomed and trained into future leaders.

In is important to note that once potential leaders are identified, they should be encouraged and those essential leadership soft-skills developed. Such emerging leaders should be mentored on how to effectively communicate, make decisions, deal with difficult situations and other issues that are pertinent to organisation.

Through mentorship and coaching, employees may also discover other areas of strength which will add to their success as effective leaders.

Your managers are leaders within the organisation, and this is a great chance for them to actively work towards developing lower level talent into leadership roles. Build a formal framework for coaching, including specific expectations for both the manager and employee, just as a way to get started.

Most executives instinctively know that strong leadership is essential for overall organisational success. Developing leaders from within does not happen overnight. It can take months or years to build a pool of quality talent.

Upskilling your talent is mainly concerned with performance and the development of certain skills as required. It takes the form of a personal (usually one-to-one) on-the-job coaching approach to help the employees develop their skills and levels of competence.

Out of necessity, companies and other organisations, while increasingly realising the benefits of coaching interventions in the workplace, must also deliberate on the expenses involved in hiring external coaches to provide these services.

Such awareness has prompted some companies to look at internal coaching as a means of reducing these external costs. This role is done by human resources managers or other managers internally.

Managerial coaching is a part of upskilling. It is a concept that attempts to provide a fine distinction in terms of who the coachee is, the skills and behaviours of the coach, and what the coachee is receiving as part of the coaching process.

It focuses on unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. This type of coaching is when a supervisor or manager is serving as a coach, or facilitator of learning, in which he or she enacts specific behaviours that enable employees to improve their performance.

Talent upskilling in organisations can be linked to a variety of goals within an organisation, including improved performance management, long-term business success, employee engagement, productivity, career growth, and many more.

It is an irrefutable fact that if a manager is a good coach, he or she can automatically cascade down to the employees and the organisation at large.

A good coach (manager) is one who determines what drives the team he or she is managing, then proactively designs coaching programmes and initiatives that are properly aligned to the goals of the organisation.

Upskilling also helps one to identify and develop future leaders. Identifying workers who are learning new skills that you value in leadership roles can give you a roster of promising candidates to take over should a manager or executive leave the business.

Upskilling your team is not just about ensuring you have the right skills to meet your goals: It is also about planning for the long-term future of both your organisation and the employees.

Regular training and development are the strongest retention tools in any employer’s arsenal. Employees want to feel that they are valued and that their company is investing in their careers. If not, they are unlikely to stay long in a job which does not provide this.

The main reason for coaching managers is to impart skills, behaviour and performance necessities for them to cascade to the employees they manage. Most managers need to be developed in order to improve their coaching capabilities.

Employees normally emulate the behaviour of their managers. As such, it will be the prerogative of the manager to be a good coach such that even the employees will imitate from him or her that which is good.

Upskilling your talent will be most effective when the coach understands that his or her role is to help people learn, at the same time maximising the performance and productivity of the organisation.

Coaching should provide motivation, structure and effective feedback if managers have the required skills and commitment.

It is important to note that the need for coaching may arise from formal or informal performance reviews, but opportunities for coaching will emerge during normal day-to-day activities.

Upskilling as part of the normal process of management consists of making employees aware of how well they are performing by, for example, asking them questions to establish the degree to which they have thought through what they are doing, challenges faced or any recommendations, if any.

Upskilling reduces the production-error rate, as well as the time employees take to complete tasks. This yields a faster turnaround time and increases your employees’ performances.

Upskilling your talent should be part of the organisation’s culture. In order to make this shift happen, organisations need to create a culture of talent upskilling, incorporate it in training and development programmes and performance review processes at all levels of the organisation.

In this way, the role of upskilling and its importance to management will be valued. If an organisation is going to develop and implement a coaching programme, the first task is to understand the context.

Upskilling talent is a big investment than hiring and training a new worker. As you re-skill your employees, you create a more well-rounded, cross-trained workforce, and increase your team’s effectiveness. Good coaches produce more productive employees.

By coaching their teams more frequently and effectively, managers can reduce the time they spend on giving direction, correcting poor performance, solving problems and making decisions. As a result, they will end up improving the efficient and effectiveness of the organisation.

If done properly, talent upskilling can also improve employee engagement.

Upskilling allows companies to invest in workers, either the current employees or prospective ones, giving them a chance to acquire the skills the business needs to succeed.

Upskilling HR is critical to business sustainability and future growth. One of the most pronounced benefits of upskilling is that companies gain access to skills that their workforce lacks.

Additionally, workers gain access to training that can help them perform in their roles or even advance their careers.

Talent upskilling in organisations should be viewed as an investment. While there is a financial cost associated with the approach, the goal is to reap the dividends of a workforce that possess the competencies you need to further your objectives.

Without upskilling, the skill gap may continue to be a challenge in the long-term. This could lead companies to fall further behind their competitors or fail to meet various goals that could move the company forward.

Emmanuel Zvada writes in his capacity. He is a human capital consultant. For comments, inbox to emmanuelzvada@webmail.co.za or call +263771467441.

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