Development for Leaders and Managers Is Important
The chaotic events of 2020 highlighted the importance of leaders and managers as role models and facilitators of organizational stability during times of unprecedented upheaval. Not surprisingly, when asked about this year’s overall company culture priorities, survey participants ranked leader/manager development top-of-list.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the social unrest that followed meant that leadership competencies and behaviors needed to be reassessed. Employees looked to organizational leaders to be more transparent, compassionate, and authentic. Those leaders had to step up when outcries over racial inequities necessitated courageous—and often uncomfortable—conversations.
Because of their positions on the front lines of organizations, managers were called on to have difficult discussions, too. Those interactions include such potentially sensitive topics as physical, emotional, or other aspects of employee well-being; diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) concerns; sexual harassment claims; and more.
The need for those conversations continues as businesses still navigate turbulent times, and as companies work to put into action the commitments that were made in response to the events of 2020. Understandably, those circumstances make training for leaders and managers a particularly pressing imperative for HR and L&D as 2021 unfolds.
New Ways of Working Demand New Skills
When the onset of the pandemic caused a rapid shift to remote work settings for many employees, leaders and managers accustomed to heading teams in brick-and-mortar facilities were abruptly called on to direct workers from a distance. Supervising the performance of individuals and teams they couldn’t oversee onsite signaled a pressing need for leaders and managers to hone their skills for the virtual (and hybrid) work environment.
Half of the HR and learning professionals surveyed by Media Partners reported that training managers and leaders to head effective virtual teams and workforces continues to be a top development must for their organizations in 2021. And with many employees expressing their desire to continue working remotely, more growth is forecast in the demand for engaging, skill-building training in virtual leadership.
As business leaders and employees, alike, try to anticipate what the future of work will bring, survey respondents confirm that their attention is on providing their employees and leaders with the development opportunities and soft-skills training needed to drive future success. Fifty-six percent of HR and L&D professionals cited that future focus on performance as their second-ranked training challenge.
Training experts agree that already-shifting business models, ongoing evolution in automation and artificial intelligence, changes in talent utilization, and other trends soon will make continuous learning and upskilling/reskilling a way of life for everyone. Increasingly, HR and L&D functions will be gauged on their ability to ensure workforce readiness—for the expected and the unexpected.
According to survey participants, DE&I-related instruction and a lack of expert facilitators in difficult topics (such as well-being, DE&I, and sexual harassment prevention) are among other training challenges expected in 2021.
Training Professionals Need More Resources
About half (52%) of the HR and learning professionals surveyed by Media Partners say that their organizations have been able to transform live training to virtual in response to the pandemic. However, that leaves almost the same proportion of training functions lacking when it comes to producing and delivering effective development options for employees (remote or onsite in company facilities) who must social distance or who lack access to in-person training.
Given so many disruptive changes in where and how work is done (and with more changes ahead), 45% of survey respondents say they need training products and resources that will help them address emerging needs. From remote work skills and virtual leadership to DE&I and other respectful workplace topics, demand for learning content is shifting. The ability to quickly deliver effective training on the latest organizational imperatives is critical to competitive capability and business performance.