MASTERING STRATEGY EXECUTION: DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES

MASTERING STRATEGY EXECUTION: DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES

Adequately trained staff is one of the most critical steps senior management can take to ensure successful strategy implementation. A new strategy often requires a change in the optimal mix of human resources for the organization requires developing employees through training programs, courses and workshops. During the development of a strategy is crucial to assess whether organization has the people with right skills and knowledge to make it a success. Training and development programs can be effective way to ensure employees have the right skills to execute the strategy. To be successful an organization must link its educational efforts to its strategy and vision. Developing employees can take a wide variety of useful forms – from short welcome sessions for new hires to MBA programs for high potential managers (Bernhard and Ingols, 1988). Developing employees can consist of training and development.

WHAT IS TRAINING AND DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES?

What is employee training? Training is a short-term activity that helps employee to better perform in their job by learning them new skills (Bernhard and Ingols, 1988). Training and development may consist of courses, collective classes, (on-the-job) training, and individual guidance and coaching.

What is employee development? Development is a more long-term activity that broadens people, gives them new perspectives and helps them think strategically. Development creates generalists that pushes people beyond their present functions. Development for example learns managers about other function expertise such as finance and marking and about the organization as a whole.

Developing employees is crucial for strategy execution. The goal of training and education is to upgrade the knowledge and skills of the existing organizational members to improve their work performance and or strategy execution performance. The importance of training and education is underscored by the fact that in my research the organizations that where most successful in strategy execution placed great importance on training and education of organizational members during the implementation effort.

WHY TRAINING AND DEVELOPING EMPLOYEES IS CRUCIAL FOR STRATEGY EXECUTION

Training and education of organizational members has a positive influence on implementation performance for the following reasons.

Sufficient education increases preparation adequacy of executing staff. Highly educated organizational members are more likely to adapt to intellectual demands, such as the use of information technology (Fuerst & Cheney, 1982), to be early adopters of innovations (Berry et al., 1998), are more receptive to innovation and strategic change (Wiersema & Bantel, 1992) which has a positive influence on receptivity to change.

New execution tasks can be learned through training. Implementing a new strategy often requires new activities and ways of thinking, which can be learned by training and educating employees. Training and education may teach organizational members new ways of thinking and how to perform the new activities.

Training and development increases competence of organizational members. The quality of a strategy and its execution depends on the quality of the people who implement it. The quality of organizational members can be improved by educating them. Training and education can improve employee knowledge and skills and make them perform better. Training and education may allow employees to execute their tasks in a professional and skillful way.

Training and developing employees supports cultural change. Training and education play an important role when a new strategy requires cultural changes. During strategy implementations at several organizations, training and education was given to educate organizational members about the new organizational culture, such as practices, codes of conduct, and values.

Training and developing employees builds loyalty. Dissatisfaction with employee development effort are a reason for young managers and high potentials to leave their organization early (Hamori et al., 2012). The research found that many international high achievers are not receiving the career development support they want. While they generally received on the job development opportunities such as high visibility positions and considerable increases in responsibility, they were not getting the formal development they desired and value highly. When top performers are not receiving the training, coaching and mentoring they tend to leave to leave the organization. Organizations can build loyalty by providing such formal development to their most talented employees.

Good people want to advance. Good people naturally want to improve themselves and want to keep learning. The want to continuously develop their knowledge and skills and become more valuable to their organization. Such people appreciate it when their employer supports them in this. Managers should take a real personal interest in developing their direct reports. When organizations invest considerable effort in the development of their staff, this supports their desire to advance. This is often greatly appreciated and builds loyalty to the organization.

Training and development helps retain talent. Research has shown that many top young managers leave their organization because they do not receive the career development they want (Hamori et al., 2012). Young managers and professionals often place great value on formal development such as training, mentoring and coaching. However, they often do not receive such training and development. They left their organizations after, on average, two and a half years. Training and development is often viewed as costly and can take employees of their jobs for a short period. In addition, many organizations do not train their young employees who may not stay long.

HOW TO TRAIN AND DEVELOP EMPLOYEES

When training and developing staff the following best practices may be helpful.

Analyze the needed skills for the new strategy. Any training and development program should start with the needs of the strategy. What skills do the employees need to make strategy a success? The analysis should start with the overall strategy to specific needs of departments and individuals. For example, a sales department will have very different training needs than for example the finance department.

Build training programs around the required skills. After ascertaining the skills that are required by new strategy, build training programs around them and assign coaching and counseling to those who need it.

Different people have different needs and learning styles. Older employees often have different learning styles than younger employees (Ferrazzi, 2015). For example, young employees have grown up using cell phones and computers. They expect such technologies to support their learning activities. Other employees tend to have different learning styles and may favor more face to face contact. When training and developing employees, there is not one best way of training that suits all employees. Provide different training methods for different learning needs and styles.

Training on the job is very effective. One of the most effective forms of training is on-the-job training. The training should provide the needed competent personnel for the strategy implementation. As we saw, earlier, 70 percent of training and development happens on the job, not through formal training programs (Valcour, 2016).

Lead by example. To motivate employees and middle managers to engage in training and development, leaders should share their own learning journeys (Ferrazzi, 2015). When leaders are not enthusiastic about training and development, how can their direct reports be enthusiastic about theirs?

Training and developing employees do not have to be expensive. Training and development does not always have to involve costly formal training programs. Training and development is very effective when done by managers who take a personal interest in developing their direct reports. It involves assessing their skills and helping them to improve the skills that need to be improved.

Give managers time to support training and development. As training and developing employees is a key managerial function, give managers enough time for it (Lipman, 2013). One way to this is to give managers a limited span of control.

Provide flexible learning options. Employees often forego learning and development activities because of a high workload. The most talented and competent employees tend to have the highest workload.

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