How ‘well equipped’ is your management team to deal with the uncertain times ahead?

It’s probable that your organisation has been affected in some way by the pandemic and it's possible that your revenues & profits have fallen during this period. At the same time, it’s likely that your costs have gone up, especially if you’ve had to invest in equipment to enable remote working. Likewise, if you’ve been fortunate enough to re-open your premises, you’ll probably have spent a small fortune in making your business premises ‘Covid Secure’.


As such, it makes sense to cut some parts of your budget in the immediate future, so that your company can survive in the long term. Often, we see that the training/learning & development budget is the first casualty when organisations are looking to save money quickly.


A common justification that we hear is that when compared to other more pressing business needs, the ‘perceived investment’ that training & development requires i.e. time spent and financial cost is just ‘too expensive to consider’ right now.


However, in 2021, as you look to plan your company’s recovery, is now the time to re-evaluate where employee development sits on your priority list?

The statistics above are startling when you consider the context - many of you have had to quickly adapt how you operate and you may have been forced to upskill, reskill & redeploy your employees, some into unfamiliar roles as a temporary stop-gap solution.



For Business Owners/Senior Leaders, it may be worth asking yourself the following questions – during this pandemic;

A) have you been able to work proactively ON your business/function i.e. focusing on strategy for 2021?

or

B) does it feel like you’ve spent most of your time working reactively IN your business/function i.e. ‘firefighting’ day-to-day operational issues?


If your answer feels more like Question A, then perhaps consider – are you delivering the most possible value for your organization working in that way?


Granted, these are exceptional circumstances but this disruption is highly likely to continue into next year and it’s quite possible, that for many of you – ‘things won’t go back to the way that they were’. Therefore, it’s important to think about ‘to what extent can your employees deal with business issues in the coming weeks/months/years without your direct involvement?’ - Consider;

  1. Is your management team suitably equipped to deal with the day-to-day operations without your input?

  2. Do ‘first time’ managers have the confidence/resilience to adapt to these uncertain conditions?

  3. Do they possess the right mix of soft skills to collaborate effectively with their colleagues and customers?

  4. Do they have the necessary know-how to manage teams & drive team performance whilst working remotely?

If any of those questions above relate to a potential problem in your organization, then 'employee development' could provide the solution. Whilst the options presented below may still require an investment in terms of time, the financial costs are surprisingly limited.


Coaching & Mentoring

  • Coaching & mentoring your managers on a one-to-one basis could be a helpful way to gauge their confidence and to pass on leadership/management advice for improving team performance. However, it’s important to think about whether you have the necessary time to do this with each of your managers individually.

Internal Workshops

  • Bringing your managers together in groups to discuss organizational issues could be a practical method of solving problems. This is a great way for them to share best practices and it may empower your management team to look for solutions independently – this should free up your time to focus on strategic issues. Again, it is worth contemplating whether you have the time to plan and coordinate those sessions.


Management Apprenticeships

You may have looked into apprenticeships in the past with little success, after all - apprenticeships often unfairly carry a stigma amongst mid-level & senior employees. A 2018 ILM survey of 1,000 UK HR decision-makers revealed that 58% of those surveyed feel ‘middle and senior managers would be unwilling to be seen as an apprentice’ with 53% citing the “reputation and image” of apprenticeships. Leadership & Management principles aren’t taught in schools/colleges, hence why apprenticeships in this field start a level 3.

  • For your employees, it may be worth highlighting what the apprenticeship does for their professional development rather than what it’s called. Management Apprenticeships develop the necessary knowledge and soft skills within your employees to help them manage and lead effectively. Due to the way that apprenticeships are structured – your employees are able to apply management practices in their roles in real-time. As result, they become competent and therefore, confident more quickly. Equally, apprenticeships also include coaching & mentoring, and workshops, but the majority of the logistics is handled by the training provider – again, this frees up your time to focus on other business issues.

  • Apprenticeships are also cost-effective. If you’re a large organisation (with an annual wage bill over £3 million), then you have a ready-made training budget via the Apprenticeship Levy which could be used to fund these programmes. For smaller organisations, there are gov’t subsidies which cover 95% of the course costs. As a result, the required financial investments for apprenticeships may be much lower than you think.


Given the emergence of these potential no-cost/low-cost solutions to learning & development, where will employee development sit on your priority list in 2021?


  • We can help you access apprenticeship funding to develop your existing employees

  • We can deliver training courses to develop both your ‘first-time’ managers and your existing managers who could benefit from a more structured development programme.

  • We use an online learning platform to deliver our apprenticeships remotely, which means that your employees can receive apprenticeship training without breaking social distancing measures.



If you’d like to know further details – you can contact me at dom.abubakar@system-group.com

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