Managerial Upskilling

Fast as light computers, revised free trade agreements, political unrest, global competitiveness, a more sophisticated and at times unpredictable workforce combined with a legion of environmental and human rights activists are just a few factors that have influenced the corporate world and will continue its influence well into the year 2030. In an era of exogenous factors such as new technologies, opportunities for global efficiencies, demands for superior customer service, product quality and government regulations; upskilling is taking on a new urgency for organizations although some organizations may not realize this. The urgency is even more pronounced as advances in biotechnology and modified government laws will help the workforce grow even older, with individuals remaining productive until the age of seventy – five and beyond. Meanwhile, young people will require three to five years of on the job education before they can fill the shoes of those who finally retire.

Upskilling is not a new phenomena. It has been around for the past thirty plus years in the skill trades sector and was coupled with the Multicrafting process. Upskilling has two meanings. One it is the development of new skills that an employee will need to perform the same role in the future and two; it is the process of teaching your employees a new set of skills as new opportunities and new job parameters require a specialized skill set, often referred to as job enlargement or job enrichment. Either one or both are applicable depending on your service sector.

By upskilling an organization fill vacancies and needs from within while creating developmental opportunities for employees. Upskilling provides a number of organizational benefits such as; preparing employees for upscale assignments, reduces waste, increase productivity and allows for retaining high quality employees. Upskilling also acts as an intrinsic motivator because employees crave growth and development opportunities through the acquisition of new skill sets.

So, what does that mean to leaders who are required to provide direction to the upskilled resources. Well, it has a tremendous impact as to how Leaders manage on a day to day basis. Workforce upskilling has become a top priority for Tier One organizations and supervisors and managers alike are experiencing job roles that are shifting quicker than ever and the need to lessen employee turnover in order to stay competitive is a must.

The development of an effective organizational leadership upskilling strategy is a great place to start. Such factors as identifying knowledge gaps, short and long term tactical thinking and the creation of developmental training programs ought to be considered.

Now more than ever, management / leadership is a science and an art. The science side is understanding the business and the art side is understanding people. Successful Leaders must have a full range of artistic qualities because they will need the ability to inspire, attract and motivate talented people from a range of environments and demographics. Given the declining pool of talent, money alone will not be the critical factor in attracting and retaining talented people. Talent must feel that the leader has a deep interest in their career development. Leaders ought to ensure that personal and professional beliefs and corporate values are interwoven with position descriptions and short to the point frequent performance feedback sessions. Leaders must realize that talent will not be retainable if they do not enjoy what they are doing or leaders fail to communicate effectively on a regular basis and take a genuine interest in their most valuable asset.

Also, leadership ought to be in touch with tuition and reimbursement programs that are offered through a number of accredited educational institutions. There will be times when employees will be required to study a subject in depth and in a way that will go beyond an organizations capability. When these situations present themselves, a leader ought to have immediate access to such programs and have a budget that will pay for pertinent courses and industry recognized certification programs. Leaders may also wish to acquaint themselves with developmental techniques such as job shadowing, mentoring, virtual learning and on the job expert training.

Thirdly, leaders today must learn about strategic planning in a global environment. As we move increasingly to multi national “corporations and global business units, leaders will need to put much of the manufacturing, research and development and marketing activities in the hands of local nationals. This means that managers will have to be more astute to internal capacity planning initiatives, operation utilization capabilities and point of sale fundamentals while local nationals become part of the strategic planning process. To further complicate the leadership world, understanding technology and products will not be enough. Leaders will need to understand the culture and religion in the countries in which they work and cultural diversification in the workplace of the world.

Managing customer relationships in the upskilling process is tantamount to future planning. Managerial upskilling needs to included understanding customer needs, wants and expectations to the point that we are able to communicate with the customer on a regular basis and receive continuous customer performance feedback.

It has often been said that; good people leave organizations if there are no opportunities because they have the confidence, willingness and self esteem to go elsewhere and be successful. Poor people stay because nobody else wants them. The most important ingredient for managerial success is a high quality workforce. With that in mind the development and maintenance of high employee knowledge base will be job number one for leaders. Upgrading the knowledge base of the workforce will mean continuously keeping employees on the learning curve by targeting skills that increase job performance and customer satisfaction. Focusing on continuous improvement via upskilling will drive the need for the workforce to become educated in operational thinking and innovative problem solving processes while leaders will be expected to be much more tactical and strategic.

About The Author.

Nicholas Pollice is President of The Pollice Management Consulting Group located in Southern, Ontario, Canada. An international presenter and consultant, he is known as a leader in operations management.  Nicholas conducts programs in leadership, supervision, communication, negotiation and conflict resolution. He has been a consultant since 1989 and is the author of several professional publications. His presentations have been consistently ranked in the top10 % throughout North America. See Nicholas’ bio, his other publications and services on the PMCG. Website at