Studies show that the average age of first-time managers is 30, and the average age of people participating in leadership training is closer to 42. This clearly demonstrates the need for organizations to build leadership as a competency throughout their organization. While doing this organizations have to take into consideration the multi-generational workforce and the value-system of the most dominant demographic in the global workforce – millennials.
Studies correlating the dominance of millennial value systems with a lack of candidates who seem prepared to take on managerial positions point towards a crisis of training for leadership roles.
While there is no dearth of training available, traditional training methods seem to miss out on seamlessness, scalability, accessibility and objectivity. The gaps arise from how traditional methods are put into practice and how the transformation of the workforce has affected expectations that employees have from learning.
The need for soft skills for a successful career
The need for hard skills in achieving success in functions of business, like sales, operations, strategies, finance, and marketing is well-known. However, hard skills are only half the story. There are behavioural dimensions that are equally important for functional performance. Organisations can leverage behavioural simulations to develop soft skills required by the workforce to deliver efficiency. These behavioural patterns are called soft skills.
Soft skills are how you work with people – how do you manage people; how do you communicate and how do you collaborate.
Embedding soft skills in the educational system
There are four prominent phases of education. School level education up to K12 followed by a period of university education, then comes the transitional phase after university. During the transitional phase, from university to the first couple of years in a corporate organization is when candidates need to acquire core technical/hard skills. Thereafter, they need add-on skills – this is when soft skills gain relevance. It is during these years that people, functional, and business management skills are developed. Business needs to focus on tackling the challenges that arise during the last two phases i.e. the transitional phase and the career development.
Industry-specific solutions to fill the gap-
Each industry functions on a different tangent, hence, when a business requires solutions to fill the skill gap, the provider needs to come up with a customized plan.
At an organizational level, the first thing to identify is where there is a skill gap in the organization. A provider runs a diagnostic to see where the gaps are, these gaps could be either in hard skills, soft skills, or even both.
The plan is formulated depending on the skill gaps and the organization’s willingness to invest. If there are considerable gaps and the organisation is willing to invest in bridging those gaps, an in-depth solution and a blend of modules that combine coaching, support and simulations can be designed. In other cases, organizations want to provide people with a perspective or create basic awareness regarding a topic which may help their employees in their roles. These are cases where there is a very specific, defined need and they require a personalized solution.
Training programs at Enparadigm
After the skill gap has been identified, many plausible ways can be pursued to bridge the gap, more like a comprehensive blend of learning programs. These include assessments, simulations within classroom learning, online simulation modules, gamified mobile learning solutions for sustained, bite-sized engagement, as well as coaching and mentorship.
A typical blended training program lasts anywhere between 12 to 18 months. This includes 15 days of simulations-driven experiential learning, which are spread across a year. The training is interspersed with and aided by 10-15 mobile modules that the participants undergo. In addition to these, there are pre-assessments and post-assessments to review the results. Within the timespan of a training journey, the participants are also brought together in smaller, more focused groups for group coaching for around a month.
(The views expressed in this article are by Mr. John Cherian, Executive Director & Co-Founder of Enparadigm. Onlineandyou.com doesn’t own any responsibility for it.)