Hard Impact Soft Skills
Dale Carnegie Training conducted a global survey to examine what are the key people issues organisations are facing. The research identified three common macro trend areas: Leadership Development, Succession Planning and Employee Engagement. The results proved to be consistent across organisations, regardless of size, geography or industry.
Leadership Development ideas have been overtaken by the democratisation of innovation through the internet. Leaders no longer have a clear monopoly on information, so where to locate their authority to lead? Dealing with a blended workforce, consisting of four generations, is a new challenge for leaders.
The concept of "only leaders lead" is being challenged by new business demands, where all must lead, regardless of status or operational level within the organisation. Consequently, there is more demand for staff to develop personal leadership skills, set and manage goals, control emotions, increase productivity and improve internal and external relationships. These requirements are being faced much earlier in careers than previously.
In our increasingly interconnected world, we are seeing leaders confront the nexus of geopolitics and economics. This is impacting companies in new ways, as currency strategies, fiscal and monetary policies, markets and regulatory controls are becoming more globalised.
Overall, the expectations of leaders are bigger and more complex. Leaders are being driven to find improvements in the way they supervise and manage others, as well as how they influence and collaborate across teams. Status power and received authority are no refuge. Organisations are looking for greater communication expertise in aligning others around a clear strategy. Innovative culture build is the leader’s responsibility, as organisations try to tap into the full potential of their teams.
Succession Planning highlighted preparing for future talent readiness both for growing and declining workforces. Succession planning has taken on a more comprehensive, holistic need. Reactive approaches are being challenged by demands for better, earlier planning for unexpected turnover or absences. Larger numbers of women in the workforce means more absences, as they leave to have children and as they are often the primary career for aging parents.
Most advanced economies are facing shortages of younger people, so attracting, retaining and developing staff takes on more urgency. For the most part, people leave bosses not companies, so the leader’s role becomes critical in securing talent. Technological change is making workforce planning more difficult, as organisations struggle to identify future needs.
Osmotic adaption to change is seen as too slow. Organisations however, are struggling to create consistent, robust processes, as opposed to being satisfied with heroic, but episodic efforts. The more holistic approach to succession planning means there must be ecosystems that support a culture of growth, development and talent movement. These ecosystems don’t create themselves. The leader cadre’s ability to stretch and coach talent are even more critical than before. This process assists to retain good people and minimise the cost and disruption of external talent acquisition.
Employee Engagement survey scores get measured regularly, but they don’t tell much about how to accelerate the drivers of attitude change. Human beings are driven by relationships and emotions. Members of a team are more productive, harmonious and committed if they feel an emotional connection to colleagues, the organisation’s leadership and the direction for the team.
Score variations are interesting to track, but not sufficient in themselves to improve team coalescence. Rather, organisations can foster an emotional connection by understanding and developing the drivers of engagement. Dale Carnegie Training partnered with MSW Research in 2012 to study the drivers of engagement and found that at the core, people need to feel valued. When they feel valued, they are more confident, which leads them to be more inspired, empowered and enthusiastic. These outcomes create the emotional connection to work that is called engagement.
The challenges emerging in these three areas of leadership development, succession planning and employee engagement are causing organisations to update their people solutions. The research underlines that
change is constant, responses are required and the quality of our people does make the difference.