How to support learning new skills?

Your support should depend on the level of maturity and readiness of your employee. You have to adjust your leadership style taking it into consideration.

Feedback is crucial, both positive and corrective! However, to build self-awareness always start with the question: “How do you assess your performance, what was good, what could be improved?”

  • MANAGERIAL COACHING LOOP

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  • FULL COMPETENCY

Full competency consists of knowledge, skills, and also appropriate attitude. Pay attention to all of those areas!

KNOWLEDGE
What scope of knowledge does my employee have? Is it sufficient? If not, what knowledge should they acquire? What knowledge do they lack?

SKILLS
What is my employee good at? What are their strengths and weaknesses? What part of this specific skill should they develop and how?

ATTITUDE
What are their attitude towards work, the team, and the tasks I assign? What is their approach towards the goals, issues? Is their behavior toward the team supportive?

 

HERSEY-BLANCHARD INSPIRATION

Have you ever heard of the Hersey & Blanchard situational leadership model? This is the model of leadership that is currently considered to be the most effective and, therefore, the most widely used in organizations.

The foundation of the Situational Leadership synopsis is a properly defined task. It is, in its context, that we assess the level of the subordinate's readiness and, consequently, decide on the style of leadership and appropriate tasks. In short, it allows us to define the employee's needs. 

We allow ourselves to put a small twist to it, based on our experience, but it’s good to check the original model.  

We can distinguish four styles of behavior: INSTRUCTING, MENTORING, COACHING, DELEGATING. 

Below we can see examples of situations in which the adjusted styles can be applied:

First situation: The employees act under clear instruction and can complete strictly specified tasks under supervision. All changes and proposals come from the manager. There is a low level of independence and the employees require frequent feedback on what has been done well and what still requires improvement.

Adjusted style: INSTRUCTING - The employee needs a lot of direction and leading. There is limited trust in their knowledge and skills. As a manager, give them a feeling of security and reinforce the correct procedures for performing tasks.

Second situation: The employee can act independently with fairly simple and repetitive tasks. However,  they need temporary supervision with new instructions. When asked, they are able to assess what has been done correctly and what still requires work.

Adjusted style: MENTORING- Gradual reduction of control over employees, with trust increased. Leading them through questions and common best practices will be the best approach. The feeling of self-assurance should be reinforced. The manager should offer instructions and support at the same time. Ask the employees questions that will get them closer to the solution, but also allow them their suggestions and praise them. All of this helps to stimulate initiative, involvement and strengthen independence and maturity.

Third situation: Making decisions and solving problems is increasingly transferred to the subordinates. The leader appreciates, listens, and facilitates the process. The reports show that they have the competency to perform the tasks. New assignments and increased responsibility are rewarding to them. The employees’ skills are growing. Nevertheless, a mix of enthusiasm and doubt regarding one’s competencies is still visible. Support is highly appreciated. 

The adjusted style is COACHING: “A lot of support, little direction”. Empower the employees with independence and maturity. By asking questions, you can help them build solutions and the confidence that they already have the right amount of experience and knowledge to handle tasks on their own.

Fourth situation: Decision-making is completely transferred to employees. They have the competency and self-assurance to accept responsibility for their actions. They have a high level of motivation, trust in their capacities, and readiness to accept responsibility. They can independently fulfill complex and new tasks. They willingly solve any emerging problems and report their ideas to make their work more efficient. They are involved and can act as an example to other employees. They can teach others.

The adjusted style is DELEGATING: There is a high level of trust that the employee will independently deal with tasks. It is worth trying to strengthen their feeling of satisfaction and involvement. Try to appreciate the employee’s contributions and their importance to your business, the situation, and the team.

To sum up, as a leader, you need to adapt your leadership style to the individual and to the situation. Treat your employees with understanding regarding the development. Nurture your relationships and allow space for mistakes. Small steps are better than big ones, especially when it comes to learning complicated processes.

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