Article: How to enable first-time managers to run high performance teams

Learning & Development

How to enable first-time managers to run high performance teams

First-time managers need to have access to tools that can help them practice their people management skills. In this article, we look at how simulations can help.
How to enable first-time managers to run high performance teams

Studies show that the average age of first-time managers is thirty, and the average age of people in leadership training is closer to forty two. The growing emphasis on millennial values combined with candidates who are not ready for managerial roles, point towards a crisis in training for leadership roles. 

Traditional training methods are not seamless, scalable, accessible and objective. There is a need to incorporate technology and millennial values, and create new learning experiences. Learning methods that foster soft skills such as creativity, collaboration and relationship-building are most suited for the new generation of managers. 

In an exclusive webcast session, John Cherian (Executive Director and Co-founder, Enparadigm) shared insights on how organizations can use gamification-based simulation tools to develop behavioural competencies for future team leaders. 

The leadership gap

First Time Manager trainings are not new. Yet, there is a pressing need to innovate on the concept and make it more relevant to a new generation of leaders. By 2020, 2/3rd of the workforce will be millennials who value autonomy, and have a lesser deference for hierarchies. They prefer learning by doing and by making their own mistakes rather than taking advice from others. 

According to the Deloitte Human Capital Trends Survey 2019, learning, human experience, and leadership are the top three trends in human capital management.  That people trends rank higher than organizational readiness is not coincidental. Bringing in millennial-friendly learning methodologies can help create a meaningful transition from individual contributors to effective people managers and leaders.  

Technology is leading to a great pace of change; it is also changing employee and customer expectations. To keep pace, leaders must look at human capital through a new lens. On one hand, there is a generational shift, on the other hand, there are tectonic shifts revolutionizing the way we work. First-time manager trainings need to happen at the “moment of need” and it needs to be a top-of-the-mind concern for business leaders to ensure active buy-in. In order to drive this mindset, there is a need to accommodate the value system that the young leaders bring in as managers. 

The learning need

According to the 2018 Global Millennial Survey, the top three skills that millennials deem essential and perceive a lack of support from their organizations on are interpersonal skills, confidence & motivation, and strong ethics & integrity. Clearly, millennial managers today face a different challenge, and they understand the importance of soft skills for them to succeed. Leadership training needs to focus on this aspect. 

Most managers today learn on-the-job through trial-and-error -HBR

Most organizations follow the 70-20-10 model, where 70% of learning is on the job, 20% is from the manager and 10% is in the classroom. The flipside is that, mistakes made on the job, cost the business. Especially when a high-potential individual performer is shifting to a managerial role, mistakes may happen because the first-time manager is not adept at people management. CHROs and L&D leaders must take the lead in building the business case for alternative modes of learning that minimize the time taken for them to become effective managers and the costly impact of wrong judgements taken during 'on the job' learning.

Simulations as a tool

Even if a first-time manager is armed with knowledge, is there a safe environment where they can practice these people-management skills without the risk of failing? Simulation-based gamification is one solution. It enables people to go through a hands-on learning experience in a safe, virtual world. This experiential methodology helps people understand how they can incorporate behavioural expectations for managing their teams. 

Enparadigm’s Beacon – a simulation-based gamified platform allows people to manage virtual characters and understand the nuances of their own leadership style in a safe virtual world. The design enables first-time managers to understand how to work with different personalities in a team in a way that upholds both the work performance and the team relationships. 

First-time managers can leverage simulators to assess the contribution, task quality, time allocation, and also to understand the implications of  “tasks rework”. The simulation can thus serve as an indicator, telling managers what they can do to enhance their team members’ skills, attitude and motivation, along with developing an understanding of how to improve their own delegation and team management skills. 

Simulation tools are usually used by classroom facilitators to help learners learn various concepts of people management. They can provide a real-life experience for first-time managers. Another option is to run simulations as online, self-paced modules, or in a webinar format, with participants logging in from across locations. Thus, fulfilling the requirements of scalability, accessibility and seamlessness, keeping in line with the push towards a productive digital culture. 

The myriad of benefits of simulations platforms are clear. From the ease of deployment to the ease of blending with traditional training setups, they are most suited to incorporate millennial expectations in effective learning experiences. Perhaps it is the supplementing features of simulation platforms that can also make a case for developing long-term, integrated solutions for sustained learning initiatives. Technology combined with human experience can help realize the desired learning outcomes for building future leaders. 

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Topics: Learning & Development, #LeadTheWay

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