Years ago at the company I worked for managers tried to sign up individual contributors into supervisory and management development programs called Supervising Employees Effectively and Managing People and Performance. Why? Because there was nothing else appropriate for them. Although questioned and told that “you have to be managing others in order to attend this class,” that didn’t stop them from doing this.
Today, they would be welcomed with open arms. As organizations become leaner and flatter, the need for individual contributors at all levels to step up is more prevalent than ever. We all work on teams of various kinds and have opportunities to lead projects, provide input and make a difference in achieving our organizational goals, even those not designated as “manager.” Because we are all leaders.
Some of the skills needed by everyone include communication, influence, negotiation, time management, innovation, problem solving, and business acumen. Sound like a leadership curriculum? RD& partners did a study and identified the top 4 key skills for individual contributors: 1) Able to plan and effectively organize their work 2) Strong interpersonal communication, 3) Effective at collaboration and 4) Able to deliver consistent results. The study can be found here:
And the places we go to learn these skills are as diverse as the audience taking them. Formal classes, informal learning, customized programs, online programs, MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses), extension courses, university programs, executive education, audiobooks, hand held books, etc.
Today organizations need to offer as wide a variety of leadership learning, when people need it, in the format that they most prefer, and with ways to apply, transfer and reinforce the learning to the individual’s skillset. No question it’s difficult to find the time to do so – that’s why flexible learning and learning bytes is also important, so that people can get the skills they need when they need it in small bits of learning. Doing so will allow you to have associates and an organization better trained and ready to meet the challenges ahead.