Now is a great time to invest in self-development and training – from soft skills to service management and technical expertise.
Why do I say this? Covid-19 has “reshuffled the cards” – and if you look at it from a positive perspective, it has altered organizations’ set-ups and created new opportunities. Some business lines have suffered but others have thrived.
The big push to go digital during the pandemic has meant that companies doing it well are now enjoying the results. And the risk appetite of businesses is changing, as they see that their people can work remotely and still deliver great results.
However, as employees’ responsibilities are becoming broader, so are the types of skills they need. One example of this is governance of time: I’ve seen a move towards reducing meetings and tapping into the diaries of colleagues only to solve specific issues or ask critical questions.
Delivering value via service management thinking
With more personal responsibility placed on staff, there is likely to be a skills gap. People used to being managed by someone in person now need to be more self-motivated, self-organizing and, most of all, self-sufficient.
Some organizations may think that drafting a process description is enough – we all know how processes work: a sequence of steps, roles, some inputs and outputs; but this is not enough when people are not working directly together. Project managing oneself needs know-how about what a well formulated task is, how to delegate and how to report.
Flow of work must also be understood. If employees have a great understanding of the overall activities and the priorities of the company, they can prioritize their work better as well. The better the status overview, the better the results.
This is where I think ITIL® 4 helps with its concepts like value streams and value chain: first, understanding it on a task level and then how the work fits into the overall value chain. Delivering value to a customer as part of a value stream is a mixture of output, time and how you package and deliver the service. This is the difference between process and service management thinking.
Moving from one type of thinking to another needs knowledge, training and development for both people and organizations.
How the organization benefits from people development
There are several areas where performance improves when organizations invest in employee development:
People who bring new ideas to the table feel disappointed when their manager quickly says “no”. This, however, is often because the ideas are not well-formed or well-articulated.
When employees start to understand their part in the organization’s overall value chain and understand customer experience, their ideas shift from a task/process level to ones that support value delivery.
For example, when thinking about how to improve delivery of products, better trained people will think about the problem in 360 degrees and consider how delivery affects the rest of the value chain. And their ideas will be more detailed and better developed.
This way, new ideas get a better reception in the organization and it’s more motivating for staff.
By following best practice approaches, everyone involved will have the right idea of how a project should start, for example knowing how many resources to commit.
With better trained people, the easier it is to manage a project. When I manage such people in a project, I know they will deliver by the deadline or will escalate an issue or any changes to the timeline.
But working this way needs training and culture change to avoid chaos and micromanaging by a project manager.
- Aligning senior leadership
Suggesting additional training for directors is not questioning their authority or ability but building common ground, a common culture and approach. Training will help them understand the organization’s project management approach and align with other people and teams in the company, especially when supporting cross-team working.
If people are onboarded to training properly, leaders will see the results happening sooner. Training and development should be treated as part of governance; a way of pushing the whole organization in a certain direction.
As a result, the organization should expect to see better ideas and greater maturity in change and improvement initiatives.
Almost 18 months after we first heard about Covid-19, and many organizations paused their training programmes, they now need to turn again to training people and creating the right alignment with where organizations need to go.