This week I tackle some of the top challenges facing managers and business leaders today.
There are two eternal truths: Life is about change; and being a business leader can be super challenging!
In fact, 66% percent of CFOs say it’s more challenging to be a company leader today, than it was five years ago. So what’s changed? Well probably a great deal! A lot can happen in five years: Technology transforms, customer needs evolve, skills devalue and crazes come and go faster than a Fidget Spinner, er…spins.
The big question is, in the ever-changing knowledge economy, how do we take on these challenges and win? Let’s find out!
Challenge 1: Mind the Skills Gap
35% of the skills workers need, regardless of industry, will have changed by 2020. So, if you thought the skills shortage was tough now, it’s only set to get worse if we don’t do something about it. The constant need to ensure our workforce is up to date on the latest trends, knowledge and skills is a big challenge facing managers today. No sooner have your teams completed the latest classroom training, than their shiny new skills are already out of date!
My Top Tip: Managers need to offer training solutions that can evolve as quickly as learners’ needs. This is where learning technology helps! Tools such as the LMS and mobile learning means you can provide ‘just-in-time’ tailored training wherever and whenever your teams need it. Rather than forcing them to wait until the next classroom course is scheduled, they simply log in and upskill immediately on the LMS! This way, you can plug the skills gaps that arise and ensure your teams are ready for whatever change is around the corner.
Challenge 2: High Staff Turnover
Few jobs, or even careers, are for life now with the average time spent in a job just 4.2 years (even less for millennials!). In this job-hopping world, the challenge is how to retain top talent. Fail to do so and the costs are massive! It takes 33% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them (that goes up to a whopping 400% for expert senior staff!). And of course, it’s not all about the hard figures – it’s about team spirit! Each time someone leaves, their ideas, company knowledge, expertise, or simple awesomeness goes with them. No wonder, 87% of HR leaders say attracting and retaining top talent is a top priority in 2017. So, how is it done?
My Top Tip: I say train to retain! It’s easy to assume that retaining staff is all about offering more money or annual promotions. The good news is, this isn’t always the case! Your teams want to learn. Research shows 65% of employees say development and training opportunities would increase their company loyalty. Another study shows employees who are encouraged to grow their skills are twice as likely to say they’ll spend their career with that company. So, reduce staff turnover by offering meaningful development opportunities and training that’s tailored to their personal goals.
Challenge 3: Creating Innovative Teams
In my previous blog on ‘innovation at work’ I discussed why nurturing creative teams matters. Our business success and survival depends on it! Yet, in challenging times it’s tempting to put great ideas on the back burner. However, if we don’t encourage innovation within our teams, those great ideas will soon dry up. Worse still, employees will take their awesome brainwaves to a more innovative employer! So, however busy you are, or profit-focused the KPIs – it’s always worth prioritising your team’s creativity. Why? Innovative companies lead to happier customers and higher employee loyalty!
My Top Tip: Many people want to collaborate at work. So give your teams the tools to share their ideas! If your LMS has social features, encourage everyone to post on the news feed and message boards. You could generate conversations to get the creative juices flowing. Creativity and innovation doesn’t always have to be about big ideas or brand new inventions. It’s also about the small tips we share that make day-to-day life run that little bit smoother. So why not ask people to share their best practices or post an inspiring TedTalk that motivated them in the post-lunch slump!
Challenge 4: Breaking Down Silos
When I first joined the corporate world, working for a large blue chip company (a long time ago!), it wasn’t long before I heard to word ‘silos’ being thrown around. Unfortunately, business silos continue to blight much of the corporate world today. For anyone in the dark about this (lucky you!) – the term describes teams that are inward-looking and inclined to hold onto information rather than sharing their knowledge. In times of change there’s higher risk of the dreaded silos forming. Silos are no place for your company’s knowledge, ideas and talent! Communication and expertise should flow freely throughout the organisation to ensure everyone benefits. This way, innovation and positive organisational change can flourish.
My Top Tip: It’s time to break down the barriers and unleash the expertise within your teams! You can do this through the power of reward. The best reward of all? Recognition of course. Encourage everyone to share their specialist knowledge by awarding those who do so with ‘Expert Status’ on the LMS. This coveted title recognises staff strengths, contributions and efforts to help others. For many people, becoming an official subject matter expert is a strong intrinsic motivator because it builds a personal sense of purpose. After all, being needed and valued feels awesome! When your teams feel their expertise is recognised they are more likely to want to share it. Soon the defensive barriers will be down for good and there won’t be a silo in sight!
Challenge 5: Finding the Holy Grail – Employee Engagement
Last but not least, one of the biggest challenges of our time, employee engagement? Research shows engaged employees are more productive, creative and less likely to leave. Therefore it’s not surprising, 88% of businesses are seeking to improve employee engagement in 2017. In fact, you’re probably one of them! So how do we keep engaging our teams throughout the employee life cycle?
My Top Tip: Epic Meaning is the key to employee engagement. Epic Meaning is a powerful intrinsic motivator because it’s the ‘why’ that drives our every action. It’s our sense of purpose and desire to make a difference. When it comes to your team, Epic Meaning is the ingredient that emotionally connects employees to the company’s bigger purpose. So, you can engage employees by ensuring Epic Meaning is at the heart of all you do – from your daily communication and the weekly meeting to employee training. Make sure each team member understands how their actions at work benefits both them and the company’s mission.
With the right tools for the job, you and your team can take on the challenges facing us all today, and come out victorious! There’s some big challenges in business. I say bring it on! We are ready.