How do leaders impact team’s performance in organizations of today? What does even a good leader even mean? In this article we try to break down how leadership impacts team performance – for the better!
What does leadership mean?
Leaders know how to get the best out of those around them. They have a knack for saying the right thing at the right time and can spot talent when they see it.
Leaders also understand their followers’ weak spots and work hard to turn weaknesses into strengths. This is particularly important in the corporate world, where individual employees’ skill sets are important for career advancement and operational efficiency. As a modern business leader, you have to go beyond day-to-day interactions and build authentic connections with the people around you. This will help you understand your employees better than ever before and allow you to recognize and cultivate important skill sets.
Why improve skill sets?
As a business leader, you probably spend most of your day worrying about budgets and bottom lines. So, you may find yourself wondering: is investing in my employee’s skill sets worth it? After all, you could train an employee for years, only for them to leave if they receive a better job offer.
There’s no way to stop your employees from being head-hunted when they improve their skills and gain experience. But, in reality, training your employees can lead to greater retention, as employees will feel a sense of loyalty to your business and will be excited to try out their new skills in your organization. Together, this means that investing in employee training has a great ROI and is almost always worth the initial outlay.
Even if you lose well-trained employees, having a reputation for being an employer that invests in staff will serve you well during the hiring process. This is particularly important if you work in an industry where candidates prioritize upward mobility through the corporate structure. Being able to give examples of employees who have gone on to find success — internally or externally — can help you land young, highly motivated employees with high potential.
Finally, investing in employee skill sets can help you identify blind spots in your business operations. You’re far more likely to stay up to date on the latest tech and best practices if you’re constantly on the lookout for employee training opportunities. For example, if you’re a leader in HR, training opportunities that foster inclusive leadership can help you provide more equitable, just services to everyone in your organization.
Getting to know your employees
The idea of running a business that encourages employee growth is appealing. However, you can’t expect to throw money at employee training and see immediate results. Instead, you need to invest your time and energy into understanding your employees on a personal and professional level.
Understanding the needs of your employees starts during the hiring process. Look out for future-focused employees who have a clear understanding of their weaknesses as well as their strengths. You don’t need to ask the dreaded “what is your greatest weakness?” question during interviews, but spin a few questions that ask candidates about the skills they’d love to develop or the roles they’d be interested in advancing towards.
The same kind of questions can apply to your existing employees, too. As a leader, set aside formal time to talk about each individual employee’s life goals and career path. At first, you might find that most employees are just content with where they are now. Try to help these folks imagine a better, more prosperous future for themselves, but keep in mind that career development isn’t everyone’s top priority.
You can also host events that help create a culture of employee engagement. Employees who engage with their work are far more likely to come forward with skill development ideas. This makes your job as a leader that much easier. Wellness events and opportunities to try new roles can significantly improve employee engagement and help you identify the training that folks need to take their career to the next level.
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Motivation for difficult skills
Cultivating individual employee skill sets isn’t always easy. Some professional skills require a serious investment of time and energy. As a leader, you need to support employees who are struggling to acquire new skills and reassure them that they are in a learning environment that works for them.
Some employees may struggle with digital skills and training programs. Even learning a new operating system can be a meaningful challenge for employees who are lacking digital literacy and are low on tech-related confidence.
You can help these employees embrace digital transformation by demonstrating strong leadership and cultivating an optimistic environment. Be present during any tech-related training days and work hard to get yourself up to speed first. Employees who trust you and your expertise should feel comfortable reaching out if they run into issues. When working through challenges, try to frame slip-ups and snags in a positive light — when learning, a mistake is just an opportunity to grow!
Make sure you recognize and reward employees who take the time and energy necessary for skill development. Employees are 2.7 times more likely to be “highly engaged” if they are recognized for their hard work. At the end of each month, be sure to praise those who work on themselves and offer some form of relevant reward.
Freeing up time
There’s no way your employees can develop their skills if your day-to-day operations take up every minute of their work day. Rather than forcing employees to crunch and work overtime, try to find ways to free up their workday and make sustainable time for skill development.
When looking to free up time, artificial intelligence programs are your best friend. Many work-related tasks can be automated, as deep learning programs are excellent for invoicing, identifying inefficiencies, and responding to basic customer queries.
For example, if you work in marketing, consider using AI to automate simple content management tasks. Repetitive tasks like email outreach and follow-ups take time away from employees. You can also automate large chunks of your CMS, so employees can spend more time responding to nuanced requests, building skills, and creating human-level quality content.
Once you’ve automated repetitive tasks, track your employee’s efficiency and identify time for skill development. You may need to give employees serious time off work to develop complex skills and should reassure them that their responsibilities won’t be compromised by signing up for further skill development.
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Recognizing and cultivating your employee's skills on an individual level improves operational efficiency, bolsters your retention, and can help you stay up to date with the latest trends. Just be sure to give workers the time and resources they need to work on self-improvement.